Let us put a tin-foil protective case around our iPhone 4 for a second. A tipster has sketched the eerie outline of a massive Apple campaign of deception: Are Apple stores creepy fantasy lands, stuffed with paid extras?

A tipster sent us an email after an unsettling trip to a Bay Area Apple store. Something was off...

Can for ONCE you guys actually look into something or do I have to do it for you?

I went to my local apple store yesterday in the bay area.
As always it "seemed" full. I have been there many times before.
This time I was there to buy the new iPod touch, but they "were out".

They offered to call another store so I waited. But what happened in between was
kind of surreal.

First of all I noticed there were alot of unattended kids in the store.
Second I noticed noone was buying anything.

And then a kid came up to me and offered to help me,
who was not in apple gear. And when I said, um what he said,
"Oh Im in training", as he pushed me to buy shit.

then while I was waiting for the apple rep to find me an ipod touch,
I noticed a group of blonde girls surrounding an iMac making a huge show,
with noone around them

the sales rep said, "oh yeah they come in here and do that all the time"
but it was really akward how they were acting. It was really wierd like an apple commercial.

Then I saw some of the same people just wandering around not wearing apple uniforms
that I had seen in weeks previous.

This is what you guys need to confirm if you are actually journalists.

Apple is papering the house. Look up what that means if you dont know already.

Apple stores are empty. Its a disney set.

Also, do you know why iPhones have such bad reception? Because they're in constant communication with Steve Jobs' mothership, hiding on the dark side of the Moon.

Obviously this guy spent some years on Haight Street in the 60s, languishing in an acid haze. But it's seriously spooky! Like if 'Lost' was set in Silicon Valley. Next time you're in an Apple Store, try talking to one of these 'customers' and asking if they're secret Apple employees. If they start robotically spouting platitudes about Apple products while gently guiding you towards a storage room, get the hell out of there.

Update: A former Apple Store employee has emailed to debunk this conspiracy theory! "I can say for sure is that no one is 'papering' the store," they wrote. They offer this point-by-point rebuttal.

Non-uniformed Apple employees

People he saw wandering about the mall in non-Apple t-shirts? Employees on lunch breaks. One takes the damn shirt off to go to the food court because do you have ANY idea how god damn annoying it is to have some idiot come up to you while you're trying to eat and ask why his iPod isn't working? T-shirt off = no obnoxious questions.

Kids hanging out

Some parents do treat Apple stores as personal depositories for kids. They leave 'em glued to... well, *anything* (sometimes for uncomfortably long amounts of time) while they go and do their own shopping (presumably).

The girls acting like a 'really weird Apple commercial'

I'm not sure what his complaint about the girls playing with Photo Booth is all about. Photo Booth seems to be a tween's narcissistic wet dream; They will sit there mindlessly taking pictures of themselves for far too long. I used to love kicking them off a machine when someone did actually want to buy something.

The fact that 'noone (sic) was buying anything'

That remains Apple's biggest problem in retail stores. Most of America can't seem to comprehend the mobile payment situation, or in the case of older folks, insist on using *checks* (eww). Further, when stores are super busy (i.e. weekends), they are woefully undermanned and you can typically find one specialist performing 6-8 transactions in a row just to satiate people. And people are usually bitchy to that one poor sap.