Anyway to avoid being scammed when buying a used GSM iPhone 6/6+ off eBay, CL, Swappa, etc?

Hal~9000

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 13, 2014
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So here's 2 scenarios I'm really worried about when buying a used GSM iPhone 6/6+ off eBay, craigslist, swappa, etc:

#1
You buy an iPhone that was carrier financed via T-mobile EIP, ATT Next, Verizon Edge, etc and once the transaction is over the original owner stops making payments so a few months from now you end up with a blacklisted phone.

#2
You buy an iPhone in which the original owner had insurance on it and once the transaction is over they claim it was lost or stolen to get a replacement so you end up with a blacklisted phone.

I'm trying to figure out a 100% bullet-proof way to prevent either one of these two scenarios from happening to begin with OR if they do happen 3 months down the line I can still file a dispute to get my money back.

Any helpful hints would be greatly appreciated :)
 

frazzm737

macrumors regular
Feb 2, 2007
115
208
Arvada, Colorado
The safest places to buy an iPhone are the Apple Store or an authorized carrier. Apple also sells refurbished devices which can save you a few bucks. I have heard too many horror stories about buying from EBay, Craig's List or other such dealers to even consider such a transaction.
 

Chatter

macrumors 6502a
Jun 10, 2013
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Uphill from Downtown
So there is no 100% fool proof way buying on a 3rd party site. Supposedly Swappa confirms the validity of the sale. On CL, the one thing you can do is meet the person and see if you get a good feel for them. I know this isnt fool proof but if you feel even a little suspicious, walk away. Other than this, buying from Apple or carrier is the only 100% way.
 
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ucfgrad93

macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
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So there is no 100% fool proof way buying on a 3rd party site. Supposedly Swappa confirms the validity of the sale. On CL, the one thing you can do is meet the person and see if you get a good feel for them. I know this isnt fool proof but if you feel even a little suspicious, walk away. Other than this, buying from Apple or carrier is the only 100% way.
Agreed. Unfortunately, buying third party is always a risk. While you can do some things to lower the risk, there is no way to completely eliminate it.
 
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mpavilion

macrumors 6502a
Aug 4, 2014
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SFV, CA, USA
If either of those things happened, you would have documentation of the sale. Not sure how the first scenario would play out; but in the insurance claim scenario, you could demonstrate to the carrier that the phone was sold and the theft claim was fraudulent.

May create a hassle for you, but I imagine you would prevail... and the previous owner would face serious repurcussions (the prospect of which would hopefully discourage someone from even trying such a scam).
 

Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
40,650
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At the iPhone hacks section.
If either of those things happened, you would have documentation of the sale. Not sure how the first scenario would play out; but in the insurance claim scenario, you could demonstrate to the carrier that the phone was sold and the theft claim was fraudulent.

May create a hassle for you, but I imagine you would prevail... and the previous owner would face serious repurcussions (the prospect of which would hopefully discourage someone from even trying such a scam).
I doubt that.
1st documentation will only do you good if you try to sue the seller in small claims court and they get served and appear in court. That's about it. You will have a piece of paper and a useless device and the seller will have your money.
2nd the insurance company that deals with claims and AT&T will not provide you with any of the account owner's private information and will not bother even listening to your problems since its a private sale and your accusations don't mean much to them.
The only way you would prevail is if you take them to court but that's another big hassle on its own and what you will have to go through. But it is doable.
Unfortunately there is no foolproof 100% way of buying a used iphone from a stranger and not having any ways of getting scammed.
Its a risk. If you do your homework and trust your instincts you can minimize the risk but not completely eliminate it.
 

mpavilion

macrumors 6502a
Aug 4, 2014
924
534
SFV, CA, USA
I doubt that.
1st documentation will only do you good if you try to sue the seller in small claims court and they get served and appear in court. That's about it. You will have a piece of paper and a useless device and the seller will have your money.
2nd the insurance company that deals with claims and AT&T will not provide you with any of the account owner's private information and will not bother even listening to your problems since its a private sale and your accusations don't mean much to them.
The only way you would prevail is if you take them to court but that's another big hassle on its own and what you will have to go through. But it is doable.
Unfortunately there is no foolproof 100% way of buying a used iphone from a stranger and not having any ways of getting scammed.
Its a risk. If you do your homework and trust your instincts you can minimize the risk but not completely eliminate it.
I suppose; though you would also have Swappa or eBay to assist you (I would not recommend buying a phone via CL). I def. agree about homework and instincts -- as long as you're buying from a seller with an established reputation and good feedback, I wouldn't anticipate a problem. (I once cancelled a Swappa sale b/c the buyer was being sketchy...)
 
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Applejuiced

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Apr 16, 2008
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At the iPhone hacks section.
I suppose; though you would also have Swappa or eBay to assist you (I would not recommend buying a phone via CL). I def. agree about homework and instincts -- as long as you're buying from a seller with an established reputation and good feedback, I wouldn't anticipate a problem. (I once cancelled a Swappa sale b/c the buyer was being sketchy...)
Well said, can't blame you for trusting your gut.
And with ebay and Swappa at least you have some sort of protection with paypal so its a little better than a flyby CL listing.
 

Martin81

macrumors regular
Oct 14, 2013
178
42
Germany
If it's on eBay: check out the seller and the description. How long is the seller on eBay? What was sold previously?
And on the description: How is it written? Invoice and/or s/n available?
 

sanke1

macrumors 65816
Nov 9, 2010
1,066
430
You should buy the phone only if the seller is providing the original invoice along with it.

Even if the warranty is over as per the invoice, you still keep it for yourself as a protection. If you have original invoice, it is hard for the seller to claim insurance without that proof of purchase.
 

ann713

macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2008
1,023
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California
Last week, I met someone who tried to sell me a "new and factory unlocked" iPhone 6 that had been poorly resealed lol. The ESN on the box was clean but he refused to let me see the one on the device. Didn't let me test my sim card either. Hm...
 
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Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
40,650
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At the iPhone hacks section.
Last week, I met someone who tried to sell me a "new and factory unlocked" iPhone 6 that had been poorly resealed lol. The ESN on the box was clean but he refused to let me see the one on the device. Didn't let me test my sim card either. Hm...
That's when common sense kicks in and tells you to just walk away.
You can pay for it and buy it but don't test the sim or look at the device.
I know someone who bought a "sealed" iphone 6 from someone on CL.
Told him he cant open the box cause then it would be considered used so he had to pay first before even opening the box.
The guy got the money, handed him the box and left right away.
The plastic wrap was remove and box was empty:D
 

macher

macrumors 65816
Oct 13, 2012
1,499
502
Last week, I met someone who tried to sell me a "new and factory unlocked" iPhone 6 that had been poorly resealed lol. The ESN on the box was clean but he refused to let me see the one on the device. Didn't let me test my sim card either. Hm...
Last week I sold a brand new replacement. Kept it in factory plastic. Put up an add on CL and sold it within hours. I said in the ad that this was a brand new never used replacement with original box and accessories. Met the guy at a Verizon store. Verizon rep made sure it was clean and unlocked. Guy wasn't concerned whether the IMEI on the box matched the replacement. My conscious wouldn't let me post it as brand new and unlocked even though I could have probably gotten away with since it was a brand new r iPhone 6 replacement never used still in factory plastic.

Just a heads up. What I found out and got it verified is when you get a replacement the warranty starts the day of the replacement. So this replacement I sold the warranty is good until June 2016. It's not eligible for Apple Care but still it's almost like getting a new iPhone 6.
 
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ann713

macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2008
1,023
44
California
Last week I sold a brand new replacement. Kept it in factory plastic. Put up an add on CL and sold it within hours. I said in the ad that this was a brand new never used replacement with original box and accessories. Met the guy at a Verizon store. Verizon rep made sure it was clean and unlocked. Guy wasn't concerned whether the IMEI on the box matched the replacement. My conscious wouldn't let me post it as brand new and unlocked even though I could have probably gotten away with since it was a brand new r iPhone 6 replacement never used still in factory plastic.

Just a heads up. What I found out and got it verified is when you get a replacement the warranty starts the day of the replacement. So this replacement I sold the warranty is good until June 2016. It's not eligible for Apple Care but still it's almost like getting a new iPhone 6.
Your situation was bit different. Meeting at a carrier store puts me at ease somewhat (although financed phones are questionable). My seller didn't seem to mind me opening up the seal but wouldn't let me touch the phone, at all. Could have been a gooPhone or who knows what. Suddenly he had to go because he was "late for work". Guy got up and rushed out the door. Nice try! S C A M.
 

macher

macrumors 65816
Oct 13, 2012
1,499
502
Your situation was bit different. Meeting at a carrier store puts me at ease somewhat (although financed phones are questionable). My seller didn't seem to mind me opening up the seal but wouldn't let me touch the phone, at all. Could have been a gooPhone or who knows what. Suddenly he had to go because he was "late for work". Guy got up and rushed out the door. Nice try! S C A M.
I've done a lot of transactions from CL both buying and selling. And I ALWAYS meet at a carrier store. Never got scammed once. Sold an unlocked iPhone 5 couple weeks ago. Said in ad I will ONLY meet at a carrier store. Was getting many inquiries wanting me to meet at other locations besides carrier stores. Bought a device a couple of days ago. If someone isn't willing to meet me at a carrier store so that I can be ensured that device is OK then it's a no go. This device was advertised as unlocked. So we met at an AT&T corporate store and everything went well.