China is known for being the home of many of Apple’s key supply-chain partners, but it also has a healthy reputation for its burgeoning black market, where Apple fakes and copies are sold to consumers who cannot afford the real thing.

As we’ve all seen, there are even dedicated fake Apple Stores.

When you’ve picked up a new Apple smartphone or tablet, you will have noticed that the device automatically appends a ‘Sent from my iPhone’ or ‘Sent from my iPad’ message to emails, notifying recipients that not only does the sender have an Apple device, but for that reason, the response may be brief.

There’s a rising number of fake iPhone products coming out of China and neighbouring regions, but one of the most popular Apple fakes isn’t an Apple product at all, it’s the small message that alerts somebody to the fact they own one.

The FT’s beyondbrics blog brings news of the fake tagline to our attention (originally reported by Penn Olson), reporting that on Taobao, China’s consumer online marketplace, sellers are offering listings to users of QQ — the world’s biggest instant messaging service — to access their accounts and change settings to make it look like a user is sending messages from an iPhone, despite the fact they don’t own one.

The service isn’t expensive, costing around Rmb8 a month (around $1), making it a viable alternative for consumers in smaller Chinese villages and towns that can’t afford to purchase the expensive Apple smartphone. The service is only available to Android users as it requires a modified version of the QQ application for the platform.

Demand for Apple products is high in China, as demonstrated when the iPhone 4S went on sale in the country and the Cupertino-based technology giant was forced to suspend sales following reports of pandemonium at some locations due to high demand.

One of the reasons for this was that iPhone supplies were scarce in the country, but with the recent announcement that China Telecom will start selling the device from March 9, China’s second and third biggest operators are set to cater for consumer demand.