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A Close, Disturbing Look at a New York iPhone 6 Line (Video)

The iPhone black market appears to be alive and well outside this SoHo store.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Long lines outside Apple stores are nothing new. People started lining up this year even before the phones were announced.

But not everyone waiting in line for a new iPhone plans on using that new iPhone. It’s common practice for people who live in countries where the new phones aren’t available to send proxies to places that do sell them. Sometimes those proxies are friends; sometimes they’re simply people who are getting paid to stand in line.

If you look at this video from BTIG analyst Walt Piecyk, you might guess that many people standing in line outside Apple’s flagship 5th Avenue store in New York City this week were paid to be there.

And a new video, from filmmaker Casey Neistat, appears to make it clear that some people camped outside of Apple’s store in New York’s Soho neighborhood won’t ever use the phones they bought. Niestat’s video documents an unsettling scene: People of Chinese descent, waiting in line for a day or more under unpleasant conditions, and then some re-selling the phones almost immediately upon exiting the store. He documents an arrest, as well as a death threat.

Several of the people on line said they were buying phones for friends. But there’s an alternative story that seems as likely, based on previous reports of similar scenes: these phones are being sold to middlemen, who will then ship them off to China where there is increasing demand for luxury items.

The situation may be worse this year because Apple hasn’t yet said when it will start selling the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in China. So demand is extra high.

Apple reps did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Here’s Neistat’s six-minute documentary:

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