Yesterday, we featured a video about the insane lines around NYC for the new iPhone launch this week. In the video (watch it below), filmmaker Casey Neistat focused on large amounts of elderly Asians who waited on the fronts of the lines to snag the first iPhones...and then promptly sell them. We spoke to Neistat, who explained why he thinks this was an organized effort to re-sell iPhones.

Neistat told us he had been thinking about this since last year, when he documented the (much more joyous) iPhone 5s launch (see video below). "There's one scene where there's a person asleep inside of a plastic bag, and it occurred to me making that movie that a lot of people on line are not there for the product themselves," he said.

Neistat, who counts himself as an Apple fanatic (he waited on line for the first iPhone in 2007), said he noticed a change in attitude during the 5s launch in 2013: "Last year I observed an aspect I had never seen before: a group of people—without making any judgments on what their ambitions, goals, or intentions were— who lacked any enthusiasm for the product or waiting in line. You can look at the film and see the people I'm talking about." He, on the other hand, described his prior experiences waiting on these lines as "super exciting, one of my most fun nights in NYC."

"This year, the sweeping majority of people out there were people entirely devoid of enthusiasm for the product, or people who knew very little about the product," he told us.

So when he and his crew went out Thursday morning, they were specifically looking for those less enthusiastic people ("less nerdy than me") in the hopes of figuring out why they were there. He said most of the people gave evasive answers ("This is for friends, family") when they asked (one of Neistat's friends speaks Mandarin). He described the people who he saw bargaining with the shoppers for the new iPhones outside the Apple stores.

There was a lot of pushback from the people we were pointing our cameras at. These were the people who we witnessed operating an organized, somewhat systematic system of taking phones from people who had just purchased them in exchange for money. It was a vey small group organizing this, and they were dressed differently from the people who were waiting...and they were bidding against each other for the phones. The people with the phones would consider the numbers they put on the pieces of paper. Then the transaction would take place right in the street. Bags would be exchanged for pile of cash.

He couldn't give a specific reason why he thought it was the Chinese mafia except for the level of organization involved, but he noted, "I wasn't deliberately trying to shoot Asian people, I was trying very hard to capture exactly what I saw." Considering how in-demand Apple products are in China, and how there is at least a three month wait for the newest iPhone there (if not longer), it seems just as likely that the Black Market is being pushed by savvy and ambitious electronics store owners or dealers (like this seller in Hong Kong who claims he can deliver new iPhones there in two days), as well as entrepreneurs.

The most surprising thing may be that Neistat has never come across this in his previous years of documenting (and taking part in) Apple product lines. In 2010, the Times wrote about Chinese immigrants buying Apple products to be resold in China (back then, they re-sold for a mere $750!). People on line said at the time that they were "buying the iPhone for a friend," and if they went in the store to buy another, they'd claim, "I have two friends."

NY State even opened an investigation the next year into whether Asian customers were being denied iPads at Apple stores because Apple employees suspected the iPads would be resold overseas. People in Asia apparently are very motivated to get the latest products, whether it means selling kidneys for iPads or renting out girlfriends for iPhone 6.

Several former Apple employees talking about this on Reddit:

I'm a previous Apple Store employee and can explain these queues: the biggest reason they're so large is, in fact, that there are no Apple Stores in South Asia. A massive percentage of the queue is made up of people who work on behalf of exporters that will send all their purchased iPhones to India, Pakistan and the like to be sold for profit.

Every single iPhone launch since the iPhone 4 has been like this: huge numbers of south Asian men (and very few women) all buying two of the cheapest iPhones (the per-customer limit around launches), requesting no name on the receipt, and often a VAT return slip. All buying with cash, many returning day after day for as long as demand remains, and some simply joining the back of the queue again and hoping they're not noticed so that they can buy two more iPhones and get a higher commission from their shady employer.

The reason why so few ever order online is simply because most of these guys - as temporary, new or even illegal visitors to the UK - don't have bank accounts and so cannot perform online purchases.

Most are nice guys looking to make their quick buck and then go study or send money home or whatever; on the other hand, some amongst the crowd are utter dicks who sometimes try to physically fight their way through the queue to get more iPhones more quickly and make more commission.

Every launch was generally spent trying to come up with new ways to make purchasing iPhones easier for genuine customers and reduce stress on the staff serving the in-and-out two-please crowd. It was difficult.

Neistat added that he had never seen this much of a police presence for an iPhone launch before. There was also a tremendous amount of littering, most of which was cleaned up by Apple employees.

"What I described in the video wasn't speculation, but where phones go—whether it was discussed ahead of time—I don't know," he said. "We didn't pry, we didn't push when they gestured they didn't want us to film. We'd walk away. This is not at all any sort of conclusive investigation. I don't think the film makes any pretense to suggest otherwise."