Found my lost iPhone but Serial and IMEI numbers on iphone and box no match

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by LRUmansky, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. LRUmansky macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    I left my iPhone at the gym in the locker room. I know exactly where it was let. It was not there an hour later (of course). And never was put into lost and found. It was a 16 gig, like new, screen protector, black.

    I live in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale called Weston. The next morning, an ad was put on Craigslist for a phone matching mine and in Weston. It was a 'low' price of $400. It was the only iPhone in weston for sale for the past month. I suspected it must be mine.

    I filed police report. Later, I arranged a meeting with the 'suspect.' It was VERY sketchy setting up the meeting at a home depot. Later, I included the police... An officer I talked to confronted the suspects (there was about 4 'salesmen' for the phone). They admitted to the cop it is not their phone, saying that it was found at a school the week before.

    Anyhow, the phone was obtained and shown to me. There was no SIM card.

    I know it's my phone. The circumstantial evidence above is too great.

    The serial number that shows up on the phone (I'm not sure how the officer retrieved it without the sim card) comes up close to what's on my box, but 3 characters off. The IMEI number also does not match the box.

    Both serials start with a few 8's. The first 5 characters of both serials match. The next three, which are three letters do not match; the last three characters, also letters, DO match. Basically the matching characters between the two serials (represented with '0') compared to unmatching characters ('x') are: 00000xxx000.

    From what I can tell online, the IMEI number can be changed. And the serial number on the box of some iPhone boxes does not exactly match the actual phone.

    I can't believe that it is NOT my phone. So, is it at all possible that the phone is mine? If so, how can I show that it IS my phone? How do I find out if someone 'owns' that IMEI number in the actual phone, and whose it is. If it 'belongs' to no one or if the person that it belongs to never claimed it missing or stolen, then would that show that this phone is likely mine?
  2. Ron21 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2007
    There is no way that I know of that one can change the IMEI on the 3G iPhone. It's probably not your phone.


    BTW I remember reading that someone bought an iPhone and the phone and box had different numbers, could be a screw up at the factory.

    Did you activate legitimately? If so maybe ATT or Apple has the IMEI that was used in the activation.

    Also the sim card tray has the IMEI printed on it, check to see if that one matches the box.
  3. Dr. Cabrera macrumors 65816

    Aug 25, 2008
    Los Angeles
    basically what happened is that you accidentally found another iphone that was stolen similar to yours iPhone.

    a relationship =/= causation

    Its up to you now what to do

    a) keep it and feel like the world has taken and given back to you

    b) try to find the real owner of the iPhone
  4. LRUmansky thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    I appreciate the inputs. The phone is in lost and found with the police department.

    I talked to an ATT rep on the phone. I told her in brief what happened. She said it would be very rare to have two iPhones side by side that differ by only those serial characters. She was saying it's very common for all the characters to be the same but the last three between two phones. But it would be rare to have to random phones have the same serials, except for the 4th, 5th, and 6th to last characters. She also said that there are rare occasions where the serial number on the box does not match the actual phone.

    Anyhow, I'm going to see what the lost and found policy is of the police department, as far as when the finder can lay claim to the lost property. If no one claims it, or it's not claimed lost/stolen with ATT, other carriers, then I'll lay claim to it. Hopefully the finder can claim property in 30 days and not a year : )

    If I can't prove this is my phone or lay claim as a "finder" of an unclaimed property, then a family member said she will let me have her upgrade option for her att wireless phone. (other thread). which I have questions about.
  5. lambo macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Just call Apple iPhone support and tell them the serial number of the iPhone that was being sold on Craigslist to see if it matches your name.
  6. LRUmansky thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    The phone is in police custody still. An investigation is actually being done in which an investigator is going to look into the owner of the IMEI number. (I was reading some place that police rarely actually do this.) I would think he would also look up the serial number.

    It's more than likely now not to be my phone. I do want it though, haha. I went through too much for that thing after it was picked up that night by someone else. Lost and found policy in my area is that if the owner does not take claim of the property then the finder gets it (90 days after finding it). I've talked to the officer, and he seems to be on my side as far as being considered the finder.

    So, if you lose an iphone, and think you found someone trying to sell it. Do not assume it's yours and confront the "thief" without police assistance, as it can turn very messy. I know it would have been messy if I confronted the seller of that phone on my own, especially if the phone in question is a found or stolen one. Also, check your serial on your phone with the receipt and box.

    I've replaced the phone with a family member's upgrade option (to a refurb'ed iPhone).
  7. Aaleck macrumors 6502a


    Oct 11, 2007
    Michigan, USA
    That blows... I feel for you... I bet once you get yours back or buy a new one, you wont be doing THAT again.
  8. LRUmansky thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    I already reveived a family member's upgrade to iPhone.
    And no I WONT be doing that again haha (losing it, etc!)
  9. jalpert macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2008
    If my phone was stolen, and I then I saw one on craigslist there is no way I would automatically assume it was mine. You are NOT the person who found the phone. It's interesting that since you think the phone was stolen from you it's okay to try and convince the police that you are the finder.

    You will never prove they stole the phone, maybe they found it fair and square. Also, even if there is a 90 day policy, does it make it right for you to take the phone? What if the person who owns it looks for it after 100 days, wouldn't you want to do everything in your power to make sure they get it? Also, it's insane that even though the serial AND IMEI didn't match up you still thought it was your phone.

    It's not your phone, you did not find the phone, you have no rights to the phone. It's crazy to think you deserve this, you harassed what could have been an honest seller(we will never know), drained your city resources over a stupid phone with evidence that was conjured up in your head. Why are you even posting this?

  10. muledogus macrumors 6502

    Mar 18, 2009
    If you plugged that iPhone into your iTunes would it come up as yours? I'm not sure how that works after a master reset (I'm assuming they did a master reset). It seems like your iTunes should still recognize the phone though. Let the police watch you plug it in and if it does not must aquit.
  11. muledogus macrumors 6502

    Mar 18, 2009
    Didn't the OP say he got a new phone the right way through a family member? Didn't they also say that the sellers of the other phone admitted it wasn't theirs? You my friend, are a dingus.
  12. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Likely it is coincidence that another lost phones with a similar serial would show up just as you were hunting for yours.

    Lucky for you it wasn't a legit sale, otherwise a legit owner could have really caused you problems for getting their phone taken by the police.

    Edit: the police cannot give things away when someone claims something is theirs and the serial number paperwork doesn't match but is close enough, and if they do give you a "lost" phone and the owner files a police report you can still lose the phone.
  13. jalpert macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2008
    I guess you didn't read his post very well.

    1.) He automatically assumed the phone on craigs list was his.
    2.) He filed a police report which is fine, but without knowing the phone was his, the police had no business with any further involvement.
    3.) HE IS TRYING TO TAKE POSSESSION OF A PHONE THAT IS NOT HIS, A PHONE THAT HE DID NOT FIND. Here is the quote since you have reading problems:

    "lost and found policy in my area is that if the owner does not take claim of the property then the finder gets it (90 days after finding it). I've talked to the officer, and he seems to be on my side as far as being considered the finder."

    This person implies that he talked to the police about the phone that is not his, that he did not find being returned to him. If he is not trying, he is at least willing to steal the phone from the people who DID find it. The phone should be returned to the finder.

    So, explain to me because I'm a dingus, he is bothering the police with a phone that was not stolen (he forgot it), he thought it was still his even though the serial number doesn't match, then he thinks he deserves to keep a phone that's not his, that he did not find? The OP admitted it wasn't his either but HE DIDN'T FIND IT, they did.

  14. fishmd macrumors 68000


    Jun 18, 2008
    Sunny South Florida
    WTH man...??? Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. :p

  15. fishmd macrumors 68000


    Jun 18, 2008
    Sunny South Florida
    Oh, and by the way, every year there are thousands of items at Police stations as well as airports that are in lost and found boxes that are never picked up by people. And you know what is done with those items? Each year those things are sold to the public at ridiculously low prices, and/or they are given to workers/officers. How long do you think a police station should hold on to something before they give it away? 3 months time is pretty sufficient I think. And obviously they do as well. They can't hold on to things forever. Imaging how much crap would pile up.

    And why are you flaming the OP anyways? The guy actually turned the thing back into the police and it is sitting there in the police station. He did not keep it. IF those other 4 guys legitimately found the phone (which I doubt), then why don't they go to the cops and try to lay claim to it.? They could, but my bet is that they will not do this, likely for fear of arrest.

    To the OP, well done. You did the right thing. Not only did you do it once, but you did it twice by returning the phone to the police once you found out the discrepancy. Not many people would do that in this world today. What is more, he is making sure the police are trying to find the rightful owner...My hat goes off to you. :D
  16. muledogus macrumors 6502

    Mar 18, 2009
    1)If you lost your iPhone and the next day saw one in your town for sale on Craig's List you'd ignore it?

    2)The police could have easily told the OP that it's nothing they can/want to get involved with. It doesn't hurt to contact them. Without them it could have ended up with him confronting these strange people alone and possibly being hurt.

    3)The phone was going to be SOLD anyway, isn't it better that the owner, whoever it is now has 90 days to claim it? Even if the OP did take the phone after the 90 days at least it wouldn't have been sold on the street.

    The sellers obviously had no problem giving the phone up so to me that says they were guilty of something. I think it was worth a shot to see if it was the OP's phone and I think it took a little bit of kutzpah to get the cops involved.

    Sorry for calling you a dingus though, I suppose that was uncalled for.
  17. jalpert macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2008
    Of course I wouldn't ignore it. But I would first verify it was mine, then PROVE to the person who had it that it was mine, then I would call the police if there was a problem. No, I would not file a police report for a phone that I lost. The OP did the wrong thing every step of the way. First, he forgot his iPhone. Then he involved the police when he shouldn't have.

    Of course he turned it into police, he was with the police who then verified that it wasn't his, the police just weren't going to give it to him.

    Also, why ignore the fact that he is not the person who found the phone. Even if he waits the 90 days it should go back to the people who actually found it.

    1.) Person losses iPhone
    2.) Person tries to accuse innocent people of stealing his iphone
    3.) People who did nothing wrong but found an iphone have it taken by police
    4.) Person who did not find the iphone, that the police have, think that it's their right to take the phone from the people who legitimately found it.

    The OP is an entitled thief. I guess I did wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, this post just pushed my buttons. All this was his fault to begin with. It makes me sad that our dwindling community resources are being abused in such a fashion. It's crazy that the OP who thinks that because he lost a phone, and someone found another phone that it should be his.

    The OP lost his phone, take responsibility and move on. It's nobody else's fault, and nobody owes you a phone. You already have one anyway...

  18. RTiii320 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2008
    Long Beach, CA
    So you found somebody on craigslist who found an iPhone, involved the police and had the police confiscate the found iPhone, Now you are trying to take possession of the phone after the 90 day waiting period?

    You are basically stealing the phone from the person who found it in the first place. Just because you lost your iphone and someone else found another iphone, does not mean that you have priority to that. There is no way that you should be given that phone. I don't get where you feel like you have this type of entitlement.
  19. Dr. Cabrera macrumors 65816

    Aug 25, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Perfectly said

    What if the second iphone was legitimately found ? Sure they were probably wrong for trying to sell it instead of bringing it to the cops, but that doesn't give you the right to try to take ownership of a phone that is clearly not yours
  20. LRUmansky thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    I dont know why certain people are making a big deal on coming down on me for the situation.

    Read what happened again. If you lost a 16 gig black fairly new iPhone in a certain subdivision of a city, and then later that same night (at 1:30 a.m., a weird time to post any type of ad) a phone with the exact specs as yours is posted on craig's list. And there are no other iPhones, no less matching yours' description on craig's list in your area, what would you think is likely? As an addition the phone on craig's list has no accessories listed (indicating it was found) and is listed in near if not new condition.

    So, I filed a police report with local police. The officer said I should have done so the day before, even before I had further proof it was more than lost. By the way if you find a phone and don't turn it into lost and found (when it's common knowledge that there is a lost and found in a facility, and then you attempt to sell said item, it is considered selling stolen property).

    I did not want to involve the police, but the officer taking the report said if I attempt to contact the "suspect" I should involve them. Therefore I did.

    Also, it still may be my phone. The chances are substantially reduced. But it still may be so. The only other party that could conceivably be considered the finder is the one who tried to sell stolen property. If I was proven that day to be the owner of the phone then the cop (the one that apprehended the phone) suggested he could have arrested him. It is lucky for the kids that had the phone that I was not proven as the owner that day (this is not the same as saying that I was proven as not the owner).

    I did everything I should have done. If I didnt attempt to apprehend what I had great reason to believe was my then considered as stolen iPhone, it would have likely been sold to someone else (it was going for only $400, cheap in my area for a used iPhone 3G).

    I am fully satisfied what I did. On side note, if the police had something more important to do at the time of the phone transaction (the act of obtaining the phone from the "suspect(s)") then they would not have appeared. What I did was reasonable.

    It is also reasonable that I be considered the finder the phone, and give the cops opportunity to investigate and locate the true owner (if in fact it is not me). If there is no other owner claiming it, then I feel 100% secure in obtaining it.
  21. Dr. Cabrera macrumors 65816

    Aug 25, 2008
    Los Angeles
    ok apparently you don't understand a simple concept : Correlation does not imply causation
  22. eLMafUDd macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2006
    Easy way to find its serial number.

    If your using a mac goto your /Users/"Username"/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/"Folder"/info.plist

    "Folder" is a folder named with a long series of numbers and letters. "Username" is whatever your logon name is. Your serial number is in the info.plist file.

    If you are using Vista: Go to C:\Users\Username\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPodDevices.xml
    this document will have a list of all synced devices, ipods and iphones.
  23. Crayon Meld macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2008
    Bronxville, NY
    First things first. Being suspicious because a craigslist ad was placed late at night is one of the dumber I've heard. I can't being to imagine what would cause you to think in such a way. Are you implying that maybe the people put the ad up early in the morning so ... no one would see it? Or are you implying that people who stay up late are somehow up to no good? The more I think about it, the more it hurts my head, so I'm going to stop.

    A phone listed with the "same specs" as yours is probably the LEAST damning evidence. Apple makes 3 models of phone, so there is a 1/3 chance that any phone being sold has the exact same specs as your lost phone. Also, didn't you mention you had a protector on your phone? Why wouldn't the "thieves" sell it with the screen protector? That's added value, plus they were listing it so late at night there is no way anyone would see it...

    Ok now that those are out of the way, let's be honest with one another. You KNOW it's not your phone. The serial number on the phone doesn't match the one on the box. The IMEI doesn't match the one on the box. It's not your phone. It wasn't some crazy mix up at the factory AND some software hack where they changed the IMEI number.

    The fact that you think you are entitled to the phone because you have "come this far" is absurd. Just because you lost your phone, and put some effort into weird circumstantial clues only to end up finding SOMEONE ELSES lost phone, doesn't mean you have get the phone cause you have worked so damn hard.

    Also didn't you say you got a new phone? What are you going to do with a second one? Sell it on craigslist maybe? Don't post the listing too late at night, its suspicious. Now that you mention it ... I'm posting this at 2:30am ... WATCH OUT

    Also just because my ire is up, I'm going to end with my favorite piece of your writing. God I hope english is your second language.

  24. LRUmansky thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    Dr. C,
    Yes I do. And I believed there was a high enough correlation to warrant what I did.
  25. LRUmansky thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    It was listed at 130 a.m. in my area. It had no accessories. It was also a found phone (actually termed stolen property now). The 'suspect', for lack of better term admitted he found the phone and was selling it.
    What I "did" was fine. Like I said there is an outside chance it is mine. But for argument sakes, we'll say 110% sure it is not. Fine, then I'me termed the finder. So what? If there is no owner to claim it in the 90 days by local law, I'll claim it, which I think is totally fair.
    As a side note, I happen to find things often, including wallets with money. I 100% always turn those things in to lost and found (never taking money from the two wallets I have found either). If there is a rightful owner to be found, let him have his property, including this phone. If not, then the only one to claim it (if in fact it is not my phone, which it very well may not be), then I should claim it. The authorities I have talked to at the police station (not sure if they are "cops") agree, by the way.

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