Buying Iphone on Craigslist. Any tips to prevent fraud?


macrumors regular
Original poster
Nov 21, 2010
I am looking to buy an unlocked Iphone 6s Plus on Craigslist.
Will meet with the seller in a public place, so there will be no shipping or money transfer involved.
Just cash in hand.

Looking for tips from Forum Members on how to avoid buying a stolen or locked phone.

Is there a way to check an online database of stolen phones by entering the serial number of the phone?
How can I check if it is unlocked?

I will bring my Iphone with an active SIM card. Should I insert my SIM into the Iphone 6s Plus, to see if it is working correctly? Or should I just connect to a local WiFi (I can also use a Tmobile Hotspot on my current Iphone) and check it this way?

If it matters, I am in the USA.


macrumors regular
Oct 4, 2017
Montreal, Canada
The problem with meeting someone in a public space is that you don't have much recourse if there are problems with the phone. Other than their number, you don't know anything else about them. It's always better to meet at their place of work or home. Then again, there are also safety considerations.

Ask for the IMEI and serial number in advance. You can check the serial number on this Apple website to see if it is still covered by AppleCare and this website to see if the phone is blacklisted. You can also call your carrier.

Then, once onsite, take your time and test the device thoroughly. Check the entire surface of the touchscreen to see if there are any dead spots, check for dead pixels and good colour (compare to your phone) as sometimes the screen was replaced with a cheap aftermarket. That's okay but it lessens the value of the phone. Then test the cameras, flash, buttons, speakers, sensors etc. Sometimes folks sell there phones because things start failing and they forget to mention it. Plug in your SIM card and call a friend to insure everything works well. Test WiFi and Bluetooth if you can. Look for obvious signs of physical abuse such as dented corners, heavy scratches and bends. Bent phones should be avoided at all costs as you will end up with latent issues.
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macrumors 6502a
Sep 28, 2014
For the past 2 years I have sold my IPhones on Craigslist rather than turn them in to Tmobile as it is a much better return on my investment to do so. What I always do and would recommend you doing as well is to meet up at a carrier store. In my case it's Tmobile. I always meet the buyer there and use the money they are paying with to pay off the balance on the phone and also give them a copy of the receipt saying it is paid off. Tmobile actually told me that lots of people are doing this now as it is one of the safest ways of doing it. Even if I did report the phone stolen in the future you as the buyer would at least have the receipt as proof of purchase and also the person who did the transaction would know the details of your purchase and be able to vouch that it was a legitimate transaction.
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