Retail giants Future Shop and Best Buy have launched a major fraud investigation involving Apple iPad 2s, after as many as 10 fake models made of modelling clay were sold in Metro Vancouver retail stores.

Future Shop said it appears scam artists bought the popular tablet computers with cash, replaced them with bags of clay and then resealed the boxes and returned them to the store.

The fake tablets were then put back on the shelves and sold to other unsuspecting customers.

"Customers don't expect to receive this kind of product from Future Shop, so it's a very serious matter and something we are addressing right away for anyone who has been impacted," spokesperson Elliott Chun said.

Mark Sandhu thought he bought a $620 iPad 2 for his wife for Christmas, but they received a nasty surprise at the family gift opening on Christmas Eve when they realized there was no computer in the box.

Sandhu said initially his wife Sundeep thought the clay, flattened into the shape of an iPad and housed inside a Ziploc baggie, was actually a protective layer over their new pricey present.

"My wife was excited when she saw this, [saying] ‘oh my God they take care of their stuff,' and then we saw this …and that kind of threw us off a little," Sandhu said, adding that there was also a clay cube where the charger should be in the box.

"I was shocked. I did not expect this from Future Shop. When you purchase something from there you expect the product to be there," he said.

Worried that other consumers were at risk, Sandhu brought the fake product back to the downtown Vancouver location on Boxing Day. But he said he was treated like a criminal by the female manager.

"Maybe the way I was dressed, I don't know," he said. "She made me feel like I'm trying to scam them out of $700. I was the one getting scammed."

Sandhu said he contacted Future Shop head office, Apple and even local police but no one would listen to his story.

It was only after he contacted CTV's Steele on Your Side that Sandhu received a response from the company.

Future Shop said the Surrey man was not the only B.C. consumer who had been ripped off. The company is investigating up to 10 similar cases in Metro Vancouver at Future Shop and Best Buy locations.

Chun would not say which stores the fake devices were sold from. He also would not touch the fake iPad during the CTV interview on the advice of the store lawyer, who warned about leaving fingerprints.

"It really saddens Future Shop to know that people stoop to this type of level to be opportunistic and make money in this sort of organized way," said Chun, who said the company first learned about the fakes in early January.

Sandhu said he's learned a tough lesson, and will never leave a store without opening the package to see what's inside.

"I know better from now on. I don't care what I purchase -- I'm not going back to Future Shop, that's for sure," he said.

Sandhu and his wife have received an apology from the company plus a full refund. They also received a new iPad 2 as compensation for their troubles.

Watch CTV News for a full report from Lynda Steele, and a look at the clay iPad sold to Sandhu. Tune in tomorrow for the second part of our story, including the response from Apple.

Do you know anyone who was sold a fake iPad?  We want to hear from you....