TRADING standards officers are warning people to be wary if offered a "cheap" new Apple iphone, after fake mobiles were found in a van in Oldbury.

Checks have revealed conmen are offering the new Apple iphone 4s and iphone 5 at a fraction of the real price, but tests show they are counterfeit.

The chargers are also fake and, while meeting the basic safety standards, run the risk of catching fire if left on too long.

The scam came to light following a routine stop check of a white transit van in Oldbury in which the fake phones were stashed.

Sandwell Trading Standards manager Bob Charnley said the counterfeit phones are so close to the real product it would be quite easy for a member of the public to be duped into handing over cash for what they believe to be the genuine item.

People are being warned to only buy phones from an official retailer and although the fakes look virtually identical to the real phone, the operating systems within them are substandard to that of the official Apple product.

A brand new iphone 4s and iphone 5 costs in the region of £410 to £700 dependant on gb storage.

Mr Charnley said: "If anyone approaches you in the street and offers you a product that appears to be too good to be true, in all likelihood it is.

"I would advise members of the public to avoid these products as you could very well be wasting a considerable amount of money."

Cabinet member for neighbourhood services Councillor Ian Jones added: ‘‘Fake products are often half the price of legal ones. While most people believe they are getting a bargain, many do not realise the effect buying fake products has on them and their community.

"The sale of counterfeit goods is a serious criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment."