To the untrained eye, he might have just been a regular person, one of the over 700,000 who cross the border between Hong Kong and China every day.

But Chinese customs noticed that the footrest and battery box of his electric scooter looked newer than the rest of the bike. A closer inspection revealed why: The scooter was hiding US$44,000 worth of iPhones.

It must be hot inside that compartment. (Picture: Shenzhen Evening Post)

Local media said the man had 28 iPhones packed carefully inside the bike. They were all of the bigger model, the iPhone XS Max, with a capacity of 256GB.

iPhones were hidden underneath the batteries. (Picture: Shenzhen Evening Post)

Separately, authorities say they also caught a woman smuggling an unspecified number of iPhone XS Max handsets inside foldable umbrellas.

Authorities don’t seem to have pixelated the suspect’s face too well, right? (Picture: Shenzhen Evening Post)

Cross-border scalpers are taking advantage of the price difference between iPhones in mainland China and Hong Kong. The priciest model of the XS Max, for instance, sells for around US$260 cheaper in Hong Kong, partly because the city doesn’t slap tax on imported electronics.

And so far, the XS Max appears to be selling better than the XS.

Scalpers in Beijing told Chinese media last week that the XS is readily available for purchase through official channels, meaning they have little resell value. The XS Max, on the other hand, was more sought-after -- reselling between US$43 to $145 above the official price.

That seems to match observations by reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said this week he believes demand for the XS Max is three to four times higher than the XS.