Today I got scammed. I purchased a phone from a guy who was advertising online. He drove to my house and dropped it off, still in the box. The IMEI & Serial Number searches said it was a legitimate phone, and it looked and felt like an iPhone 7. Only it was actually a worthless Chinese knockoff, maybe worth $50. In this post I’m helping you avoid buying fake iPhones like me!
So, how did a guy who works in tech get scammed? The answer is two-fold.
- I’m way too trusting
An unfortunate side affect of being friendly, I tend to believe people on face value. This guy was well spoken, well presented and stayed about 20 minutes talking about life, love and everything in-between.
- Working IMEI & Serial Number
If you’re going to buy a new phone, always check the IMEI number or Serial online. Of course that works well until the scammers load these with working numbers. I checked them, they looked good. Game over for me 🙁
Do good deals exist online?
Absolutely. Don’t let this story stop you from looking online. I’ve purchased plenty of great phones and technology second hand, it’s just the rare time you get a bad deal. Overall I’m still miles ahead.
In New York we purchased an iPhone 5 off craigslist. It was a great buy that still works to this day.
I purchased a refurbished iPad mini for just a couple hundred dollars. Works like new, and has a really great value.
When searching online, my tips for saving money are:
Google “‘refurbished’ <product name>”. This will often result in a number of bricks and mortar stores that have refurbished various tech and will sell it to you with a valid warranty. This is a great way to score a big discount.
Reputable online stores & eBay
Any store with a lot of positive reviews can be trusted. In Australia we love OzMobiles, a store that sells thousands of iPhones every month. Their Google ratings are excellent. There are also a number of well rated eBay stores. Just read the comments, and always buy insurance if it’s offered.
Obviously the most uncertain, Craigslist is a 1:1 marketplace. Here you need to be a little more careful, but you can go direct to the seller and score yourself a big discount. The best deals I’ve ever picked up came from this channel. Check it out for sure!
What to do when buying a second hand phone?
In hindsight, I should’ve done things very differently. Here’s a quick list of things to ask for, before you hand over the cash. If the seller can’t produce an answer, or the item, then turn your back on the deal.
Take a photo of their licence
- Copy their phone number &/or address
- Ask if the phone is real
- Check IMEI number here
- Check Serial number here
- Use the phone with your SIM in it
- Try to setup the phone from scratch
- If possible, get Apple support to check it on the phone
It might take you 30 minutes of testing, and that might be a problem for the seller, but at the end of the day, it’s your hard earned cash, so avoid buying fake iPhones. If I could have that money back in my hand, I would much prefer it to the lump of plastic I have now.
Let me know about your experiences or tips in the comments below.