Am I being scammed? Sold Apple Watch - 17 mos later, buyer says it's activation locked?

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by abeln2672, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. abeln2672 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    #1
    Hi all! Please forgive me in advance, as A) I'm not really an Apple person, so my knowledge is limited and B) this is a long story. Hoping you experts can help shed some light on this.

    Here are the basics:
    • In 9/2015, I bought my wife an Apple Watch from Cowboom.com. If you're not familiar with them, they used to sell used electronics for Best Buy, typically open box and returns. They're not in business anymore, as Best Buy now does this themselves through BB Outlet.
    • We set the watch up fine in 9/2015 and my wife used it for a few months until she decided she didn't need it. We did the normal unpair, factory reset, and sold it on eBay in 2/2016.
    • Two days ago (so this is 17 months later) I got a message from the buyer saying the watch needs repairs and that I need to remove it from my iCloud account because Apple is refusing to repair it because of some kind of lock. I admittedly know very little about Apple devices (I'm an Android user), so I login to my wife's iCloud account to remove the watch, but it does not appear anywhere in our list of devices.
    • I let the buyer know that, and she then asks if I'm the original owner. I reply that I wasn't, since I bought the watch used from Cowboom.com. She then says the problem is probably that the original buyer never removed it from their iCloud account.
    • She asks me for proof of purchase since Apple Support is telling her they can unlock it and do the repairs if they have an original proof of purchase. I send her the only documentation I have, which is an Amazon Payments receipt since I used my Amazon account to pay at Cowboom. I emailed the address on Cowboom's now defunct website to ask for an original invoice, but I'm not confident I'll ever hear back.
    • Today the buyer forwards the following message to me, supposedly from Apple Support after she sent them the receipt I gave her: "Thank you for contacting apple support. We are really getting stuck here with this watch and I’m really sorry that its been such a process. If this customer does have an original proof of purchase we can remove the activation lock and set up a repair if he doesn’t have the original proof of purchase for this device I would honestly ask for a refund as he resold you a product that we cannot service due to this activation lock. Im really sorry that I don’t have better news on this and I will ask that you keep me in the loop and see what he has. As it stands right now though we cannot service a device that is activation locked to someone else."
    • I'm immediately skeptical of the message because of the extremely poor grammar and punctuation -- this is the first time I start to doubt the buyer. Until this point, I genuinely felt bad and wanted to help. I go ahead and reply to her that I'm sorry the payment receipt wasn't enough, but that I will continue working with Best Buy and the former Cowboom to get an original invoice.
    • I get a note from PayPal in my Message Center instructing me to refund the buyer due to a "problem with the device." So apparently she called PayPal and asked for a refund? I've never dealt with that before...
    In the meantime, I've started doing some research on activation locks since I've never heard that term before. Am I correct in stating that since my wife successfully used the watch for 5 months and this person has been using it for 17 months, it can't be activation locked to the original owner (the person before me)? It seems like this is something that prevents you from ever signing in and setting up the watch in the first place. Maybe I'm missing something...

    I want to believe and help this person because that's the way I am, but the longer this has gone on the more skeptical I've gotten. I'd honestly appreciate thoughts either way.
     
  2. Hal~9000 macrumors 68000

    Hal~9000

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    #2
    17 months? Jesus...

    https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/paypal-safety-and-security

    Send the PayPal rep the above link and tell them to either learn their own policies or go kick rocks.
     
  3. friednoodles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2014
    #3
    It seems very unlikely that it could be locked to you, because this would have come up when they first tried to pair the watch to their phone. To me it sounds like someone (maybe not even the original buyer - their PayPal account might have been hacked) is trying to get money back. Don't refund it; as Hal~9000 mentions above, PayPal Purchase Protection shouldn't apply here.

    If you want to be totally sure it's not still associated with your account, here are the instructions from Apple for removing activation lock on a Watch that you no longer possess:
    1. On a computer, go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID.
    2. Go to Find My iPhone.
    3. Select All Devices, then click your Apple Watch.
    4. Click Erase Apple Watch. Select Next until the device is erased.
    5. Click (X) next to your Apple Watch.
     
  4. abeln2672 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    #4
    Thanks to both of you for the quick replies! You both pointed out things I hadn't thought about with the PayPal policy and the fact the buyer's account could've been hacked. Both great points. I'll call PayPal tomorrow and politely point out their own policy. I guess we'll see where it goes from there.

    Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, the device doesn't appear in our "Devices" list on iCloud after I click "Find my iPhone" in both my account and my wife's. So it's most definitely not associated with our accounts, unless I'm missing something. Again, I can't guarantee it's not associated with someone else's account since I bought it used, but I thought that would've prevented my wife from ever using it in the first place...
     
  5. Relentless Power macrumors Core

    Relentless Power

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    #5
    From my experiences, Pay Pal is very much aware of their policy and they can be difficult to work with pending the situation. Let us know how this turns out.
     
  6. noisycats macrumors 6502a

    noisycats

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2010
    Location:
    The 'ham. Alabama.
    #6
    17 months later, sold in good faith? I would block the emailer and ignore the Paypal request. I generally try to help, but 17 months is beyond reasonable. Plus the other red flags you mentioned.

    All this is provided you truly don't see it on your 'find my iPhone' account.
     
  7. daflake macrumors 6502a

    daflake

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    #7
    Yep, sounds like a total scam. 17 months is way past good faith in my book, I would just tell them sorry and move on. Nothing you can do anyway.
     
  8. naasrd macrumors 6502

    naasrd

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    #8
    There was no way you could have set the watch up first without your own iCloud address. If it was still linked to the original owner’s iCloud addressyou would have run into this other person’s issue yourself.
     
  9. WarHeadz, Jul 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017

    WarHeadz macrumors 6502a

    WarHeadz

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Location:
    Long Beach, California
    #9
    Please update us on what happens with PayPal. Shame on PayPal for telling you to refund someone after 17 months. A retail store would laugh in your face if you tried to return something after that amount of time. Apple's own warranty is 12 months. Why should someone who sold a used item be liable for it a year and a half later?? Screw you paypal!
     
  10. teidon macrumors 6502

    teidon

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    #10
    If the buyer has been using the watch for those 17 months, it means the watch wasn't activation locked. That's the one and only purpose of the activation lock: prevent the use of the device.

    The fact that Apple customer support doesn't know that makes me somewhat suspicious about the legitimacy of the forwarded mail you got. Also the beginning of that message has that minor/major mistake that "Apple" is spelled with lower case A. Anyways, if the mail happens to have some sort of support number or such, contact Apple and see if they can verify that it's an actual ongoing support request. And while your at it you can tell them your side of the story.

    Also ask the buyer what's the name of the iCloud account that the watch is supposedly locked to. I'm pretty sure the iPhone will tell that when it complains about the activation lock. There is of course no way for you to prove anyone that you don't own such an account, but at least you know that he/she is pulling your leg. Or he/she is a victim of some sort of hacking. I would think that Apple can check which accounts have been used to activate the device and when those activations have happened. It must have been activated with the buyer's account at some point after you sold it (or the buyer never used it).
     
  11. abeln2672 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    #11
    Thanks for all the support and very helpful replies. Here are the steps I'm going to take today:
    1. Call the new "Cowboom" to see if I can get a faster response about an original invoice that shows serial number.
    2. Call PayPal to ask why they're demanding I refund the buyer.
    3. Message the buyer to ask for a) picture/screenshot of the email from Apple Support to verify its legitimacy; b) a case # so I can contact Apple on her behalf; c) an exact description of the problem with the watch; d) a picture showing which iCloud account it's activation locked to.
    I'll definitely report back for others. I found another very long thread in these forums about an eBay/activation lock problem on in iPhone, but that happened very quickly after the sale. It seems to be an increasingly common scam, but not after this length of time has passed.
     
  12. The-Real-Deal82 macrumors 603

    The-Real-Deal82

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2013
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #12
    17 months is well outside the return window on a private sale. If it's not your details locking it, then tell him to take a run and jump...
     
  13. abeln2672 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    #13
    Update:
    1. I called the Cowboom number and it's actually forwarded to Best Buy. They amazingly sent me an original invoice within 5 minutes and included the serial number of the watch in the email.
    2. I forwarded that paperwork to the buyer via eBay messages and email. I also requested all the information from her that I listed in my post above. She replied right away saying she'll send me all that stuff after she gets off work.
    3. I called PayPal, and the agent was extremely helpful. She said there's no way to start a dispute after 180 days have passed, so I'm under no obligation to refund anything. She said the agent who emailed me at the PayPal Message Center must have been confused about the date (or the buyer lied about the date and the agent simply didn't doublecheck it).
    The amount of time I've wasted on this now has me convinced I'll NEVER sell anything on eBay worth more than about $50. I've completed plenty of high dollar sales in the past with no problems, but even 1 leaves a bitter enough taste than I'm done with them.

    If the buyer truly does send me all the info I asked for, I'll gladly call Apple and try to work this out. If Apple tells me the lock is to my wife's account or phone (and explains why the buyer has been able to use the watch for 17 months), then I'll probably try to work out a partial refund with the buyer. If Apple refuses to help and I'm convinced this isn't my fault (but a hacking or something of the sort), there's no way I'm refunding this purchase. Guess we'll see...
     
  14. bigjnyc macrumors 603

    bigjnyc

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    #14
    definitely a scam... the watch won't even let you get past the initial set up if its associated with someone else's icloud account. You would have heard from the buyer right after they received the watch if that was the case..... And there's no way that email came from Apple. I would be surprised if they came back with a legitimate Apple case #.... Please keep us posted.
     
  15. annk Administrator

    annk

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    #15
    Good luck, it sounds like you've been incredibly patient and gone above and beyond the call of duty here. I can't imagine that you can be held responsible here.
     
  16. WarHeadz macrumors 6502a

    WarHeadz

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    Aug 30, 2015
    Location:
    Long Beach, California
    #16
    Exactly. There is no possible way that what the scenario the buyer is describing can occur.
     
  17. Newtons Apple macrumors P6

    Newtons Apple

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Location:
    Jacksonville, Florida
    #17
    eBay has over the last years got to be a very dangerous place to sell or buy. I still do on occasion use them as I have over 700 transactions without anyone getting scammed. Craig's List has it's share too. There are some real crazy people there for sure.
     
  18. teidon macrumors 6502

    teidon

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    #18
    If, as you said, you unpaired/factory reset the watch, there is no way the activation lock can be on your wife's account Un-pairing the watch removes it from the account that was used to activate it.

    There is only two possibilities that I can see: 1) She is trying to scam you, 2) she has ended up being an unlucky victim of some kind of hacking. If I were you, I wouldn't pay her a cent. If she doesn't provide enough evidence to prove that she isn't trying to scam you, I would report her to PayPal. If she is using PayPal's systems/rules to scam you, I'm pretty sure PayPal would like to know about it. In case of hacking Apple should be able to help.
     
  19. hlfway2anywhere macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2006
    #19
    Do. Not. Pay.

    This sounds like a scam for sure.
     
  20. abeln2672 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    #20
    Update:

    So this is interesting. She just forwarded me a string of emails with a "Timothy" from acsupportcase@apple.com. The emails did include a case number and his direct line (an extension of 888-203-0418). I just called and left a message for him, so I'm anxious to hear back. I guess he's the one who sent her the grammatically incorrect email (with apple in lowercase letters - how unprofessional) advising her that the watch was "activation locked" to another account and that she should get her money back from me.

    Her repair issue is that the back center of the watch (I guess the housing over the battery?) has come completely dislodged. She sent me a photo.

    While I'm waiting to hear from this Timothy, is there any way to find out if this case number is legit? Anything else I can do? I'd had thoughts of starting a chat with somebody in support, but I'm sure low level chat support wouldn't be much help.
     
  21. abeln2672 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    #21
    Update:

    I have a lot to share, and hopefully this is it -- although I doubt it will be.
    • Timothy sent her an email saying he won't talk to me -- only to her as the person who opened the support case. He also told her that the receipt and SN I sent her didn't match what he has on file for her watch, so there was nothing else he could do.
    • She messages me on eBay saying since neither of us can do anything, could we just split the cost and put it behind us.
    • I'm kind of believing her at that point (and am honestly annoyed this Timothy won't talk to me), so I literally had the thought of just paying her and being done with this stupid ordeal. But before I do that, I go ahead and call generic Apple Support myself.
    • I explain my long ordeal to the guy, and he's very helpful. He looks up the watch via the SN I got from Best Buy today and reminds me that I had a warranty replacement done in January 2016, right before I sold it to her...so that's why my receipt doesn't match her info.
    • He puts me on hold to speak with his supervisor and comes back saying I don't need to worry about this, shouldn't refund her anything, and don't need to communicate with her any further. He assures me that neither me nor my wife's iCloud account is linked to the watch, and there was no "original owner" before me -- it was a warranty replacement wiped clean and mailed straight from Apple.
    • He says they have "other information" they can't share with me that makes him very confident in saying I shouldn't deal with this any further.
    • I messaged her to explain this and tell her to continue dealing with Apple, but that I'm done with it.
    • She texts and calls me (Oh, I forgot to mention that freaking eBay gave her my phone number! Can you believe that?! Since it was past the window for her to open a dispute, they gave her my contact info and suggested we work it out ourselves!). I immediately block her calls and texts, although I'm certain she'll continue emailing and messaging me through eBay.
    SO yeah, there you go. What does everyone think? We may never know, but I've got two theories:

    1. Somebody in her family stole the watch from her, and they also know her passwords for eBay and PayPal. Once they found out it couldn't be replaced by Apple because it's locked to her phone, they turned to me.
    2. She's really innocent in all this, but just very confused. Maybe she did something stupid on her own like selling her iPhone to somebody without unpairing the watch. It's now activation locked to her old phone, but since the watch is broken she can't turn it on or do anything do clear it. Her English is so poor she can't really communicate to Apple what's going on and also can't undertand their responses. Needs to get an Apple rep that speaks her language.
     
  22. noisycats macrumors 6502a

    noisycats

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2010
    Location:
    The 'ham. Alabama.
    #22
    Please separate yourself from this. Don't contact her. Don't try and explain to her any further, theory or facts. Just ignore and move on.

    You sold the watch in good faith and she got 17 months of use from it. That's enough to make me move on...let alone all the additional information you obtained.
     
  23. bigjnyc macrumors 603

    bigjnyc

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    #23
    What a weird and intriguing situation, the more I read the more it makes me think that it isn’t a scam but rather someone very confused. She doesn’t speak the language well and is not very tech savvy so is confused right now and unable to convey to Apple her issue. I venture to say the phone is probably locked to her own iCloud account which she probably forgot the password to or set up without knowing what she was doing.
     
  24. friednoodles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2014
    #24
    Don't give them any money! It's clear at this point that whatever happened is not your fault and you shouldn't be liable for refunding any money. You've been extremely patient and tried your best to help, going beyond what someone should be expected to, especially considering how long ago the watch was sold.
     
  25. hlfway2anywhere macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2006
    #25
    Your mistake was ever engaging in this nonsense to begin with. Stop or you're going to find yourself in a more complicated situation. If you continue to engage with these extortionists you deserve whatever happens. I know that harsh but this was 17 months ago and your Apple ID is removed from the device. That's all you were responsible for, it's way past any dispute period, and the rest has been a waste of your time. Why keep going?
     

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