Siblings pocketed $2.3m by stealing university MacBooks and selling them

16-inch MacBook Pro vs. 13-inch vs. Air
16-inch MacBook Pro vs. 13-inch vs. Air (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

What you need to know

  • A brother and sister have admitted ordering 800 MacBooks for a private university and then selling them privately..
  • The scam ran for ten years.

Over the course of ten years from 2009 a brother and sister sold stolen MacBook computers to the tune of $2.3 million. The sister was responsible for ordering machines for a private university, which she did. But then 800 of them went missing before being sold privately.

Picked up by The Register, the story goes that the sister began over-ordering machines in 2009 and then selling them on via Craigslist and other avenues. The brother later joined the scam, with notebooks shipped outside of the pair's home state of California and on to who-knows-where.

It also isn't clear how the unnamed university – but believed to be Stanford – didn't notice such a large number of notebooks going missing, although the ten-year timescale might have something to do with it.

Six years in, she started giving the computers to her brother, Eric Castaneda, 36, of Redwood City, who sold them to another man they had met through a Craigslist ad who lived in Folsom, California, who then shipped them out of the US state.

Investigators believe that the sister cost the university she worked for at least $4 million. She's already pleaded guilty and faces up to ten years in jail and a $250,000 fine. The brother could be locked up for up to five years with his home $250,000 fine on top. Sentencing will take place on June 7.

If you're going to Stanford and looking for a computer, here's the best MacBook for students – just don't let anyone else near it!

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.