Bought bad esn iphone 4, a couple questions

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by jimmy77, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. jimmy77 macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2014
    I bought a verizon iphone 4 recently with a bad esn on ebay, reported as "lost/stolen". It's not a problem for me, since I only intended to use it as a controller for some other electronics I have and not as a phone, and going this route was much cheaper than just buying a 4th gen ipod touch.

    That said, I would feel bad if there's someone out there needing and wishing to get their stolen phone back. Would verizon or apple be able to look up or contact the owner to notify them it was found and see if they'd want it back? I was thinking of going to a storefront (with ebay receipt just in case) to ask. Would this needlessly open a can of worms against me, just for trying to help? If I can check safely, I'd like to try at least.

    If successful, would there be a chance the owner could acknowledge it and allow it to be unlocked for me, just in case I'd want to use it as a phone someday? (since this is an older iphone4, the owner probably moved on)

    Assuming I keep the phone and it stays as is, the controller app I need to use with this requires ios7. Is there a risk of locking up the phone with this upgrade, if it's somehow tied to some account somewhere? Or is there a safe way to reset or wipe it first?

    Thank you.
  2. chirop macrumors member

    Sep 16, 2013
    You bhougt stolen hardware and knew it upfront?

    That is the same as stealing
  3. zorinlynx macrumors 603


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    Not always. Often carriers will blacklist an ESN if someone fails to fulfill their contract. In that situation, the owner is in breach of contract but the device isn't stolen. Someone in a bad situation financially may sell their phone admitting it has a bad ESN, for parts.
  4. hockeyman94 macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2012
    Just return it saying it's stolen and you don't approve of the phone being stolen. If they say no as-is go to eBay and they will get your money back.
  5. Givmeabrek macrumors 68040


    Apr 20, 2009
    You have a stolen phone and you plan on using it for you own purposes??
    That phone belongs to the original owner, not you!!
    Notify eBay and return the phone. Maybe get something you can legally own. :cool:
  6. madsci954 macrumors 68030

    Oct 14, 2011
    An Apple refurb iPod touch 5th generation is $150. And going this route is still cheaper?
  7. Jaguarr40 macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2014
    Sarasota, Florida
    Do the right thing no matter what you were going to use the phone for. Put yourself in the real owners shoes and return it and buy a legit refurb or one from a reputable place that is a clean phone.
  8. 617aircav Suspended

    Jul 2, 2012
    Why did you buy it in the first place? I'm really confused. And how do you know it was stolen?
  9. jimmy77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2014
    Well yeah I do want to do the right thing with it, that's why I posted here. It was sold with the listing saying it has a bad esn, as are many hundreds of others on ebay, and like the other replies said it can happen for lots of reasons. But I don't know for sure why it got that way or who was selling it. Did the owner not pay the bill? Did they lose it and claim it lost, got an upgrade, and then later found it again and sold the old one? Did the seller find it lost in some bar? Is it straight stolen? I don't know. The ebay seller is active and had 100% feedback and doesn't seem sketchy.

    If it is the case that it's stolen, then I'd like to at least check and give the true owner a chance to get it back if they want it. That's what I want advice on - how to go about that.

    Bad esn iphones are maybe half price versus the same ipod touch model so for my uses it's a better option - as long as it doesn't turn out to be straight stolen. But it was cheap, so I'll take the chance, and check after the fact, like I'm doing now.
  10. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    Ultimately, if the ESN is blacklisted, something shady happened.

    If they made an insurance claim and then found it, it's insurance fraud to keep it. If they didn't pay their bill and it was subsidized, the carrier is the rightful owner of the phone. If they found it in a bar, it's not their phone to sell.
  11. jhearty99 macrumors 6502


    Sep 17, 2012
    Long Island, NY
    Do people not read before they post? He clearly said he bought it knowing it had a bad ESN because he doesnt intend to use as a phone. He did not say he knowingly bought a stolen phone.

    How would contacting eBay and him sending the phone back do any good? If it was stolen, he would just be sending the phone back to the person who stole it.

    He wants to know if its possible to find out if it has been stolen, and if so be able to contact the original owner. I'm pretty sure that Apple or Verizon will not release any information regarding any of their customers.
  12. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Oct 17, 2011
    Seems like in this case the OP specifically mentions "lost/stolen".
  13. 617aircav Suspended

    Jul 2, 2012
    Why buy it in the first place though?


    The carrier is not the rightfully owner of the phone as they wont even take the phone back just because you didn't pay your bill. They want their money and not some used phone.
  14. jimmy77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2014
    Actually, I asked and heard back from the seller. They said it was reported as lost, not as stolen. What else might have happened, or are they being honest, who knows. I'd still like to check with verizon or apple just in case though.
  15. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Oct 17, 2011
    Even if they are honest, if they reported it as lost and then used insurance or something like that to replace it, then technically it's not a device that the carrier would allow again as it shouldn't exit or would essentially belong to the insurance company if a claim was made in relation to it. There are quite a few possibilities there, so unless the actual owner wants to and is actually able to contact the carrier and get it off the blacklist there's not much else that could be done by anyone really (at least as far as it relates to that particular carrier, and perhaps some others as well).
  16. jimmy77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2014
    I'm hoping it's just something like this, where a lost phone got stuck in permanent "shouldn't exist" limbo with the carrier but not with an actual owner missing it as a stolen phone. And since I'll never be using it as a phone, if it officially "doesn't exist" that's fine by me.

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