Help, I think I bought a stolen G5

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by SDLSteve, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. SDLSteve macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2004
    A few weeks ago, I noticed a flyer at a local college for a dual 2ghz G5 for sale. I called the guy up and he said he was graduating, moving away and the job he was taking was giving him a new laptop so he wouldn't need it anymore. I went over to his apartment which was in the process of being packed up and checked the computer out. Everything ran perfect and I offered him $1500 cash for the computer only. He accepted it and I took my new computer home to replace a G4 867. I hooked everything up and noticed the hard drive had someone else's name attached to it. Hmm. He said he had bought it last march which was right about the time the G5's came out. I called Apple and inquired about the serial number and they confirmed it was registered to another person (the name on the computer). Unfortunately, that is all the information they had.

    The guy is gone by now and I'm left with a sinking feeling that I bought a hot computer so much so that I'm afraid to even hook it up to the internet. Does anyone had any advice? I've looked all over the internet to determine if the serial number has been registered as stolen and I can't come up with anything. Or am I being paranoid?
  2. MattG macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Is the guy you bought it from local? If it is stolen, maybe the person he stole it from is local too. Have you tried looking up this person and contacting him/her?
  3. Hoef macrumors 6502a


    Jul 11, 2004
    Houston, TX..... (keep walking)
    I thought Apple kept track of the original buyer?
  4. musicpyrite macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    Cape Cod
    Well, there isn't a terrible amount you can do. Call Apple with the serial number and see what they say.

    You shouldn't be too worried about hooking it up to the internet, if you have done a CLEAN install of OS X first. There are certain programs that can trace the computer if it is stolen, but those can be bypassed by doing a clean install.
  5. SDLSteve thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2004
    Apple has the identity of the person whose name matches the name on the hard drive. Although the person I bought it from was a local college student, he did not live in town. The name on the computer does not match any in the local phone book.

    I'm worried for two reasons. One, if it's stolen, I'm in trouble for purchasing stolen goods (or I'll assume that is what the law says). Second, if it is stolen I'm out $1500. I kicking myself for using cash but I was taught by one of my friends when buying second hand merchandise, cash always looks better than a check when you are trying to barter. He was asking $1900.
  6. Duff-Man macrumors 68030


    Dec 26, 2002
    Albuquerque, NM
    Duff-Man says....whether or not he should do a clean install depends on what his intent he trying to make sure he doesn't get caught with stolen goods or is he trying to determine the status of the computer and get it to its rightful owner if it is stolen.....oh yeah!
  7. allisonv7 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2004
    The college should have some sort of online directory. You could look up the names there or call the school and tell them the situation, they may be able to help you find the rightful owner.

  8. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Could you have been sold a refurb?

    I read somewhere (possibly AppleStore UK) that any machines that come back as DOA are still registered to the original purchaser, even after they're fixed and resold.

    Just a guess...
  9. Sir_Giggles macrumors 6502a


    Dec 18, 2003
    Any possibility the seller sold you this "stolen" computer so his friend could claim insurance.

    Whichever the case, best to live and learn, zero the hard drive and proceed forth in ignorance. Not much Apple can do, nor would be in their interest.
  10. Duff-Man macrumors 68030


    Dec 26, 2002
    Albuquerque, NM
    Duff-Man says....I get the impression that you want to do the right thing and find the owner and return it if it was indeed stolen. You say that Apple has the identity of the person...can you explain the situation to Apple and perhaps get them to contact the person if they will not give you the persons registration info (address etc) (I would hope that Apple would not give out info to just anybody that calls....)? I would hope that they would want to help as a go-between in this situation.

    While sometimes cold cash can yield a better deal, it is always a good idea to get proof of ownership (sales receipt, registration, whatever) when completing a transaction that way.

    Yeah, and it is too bad about the $1500...really sucks actually. But think of the other guy - he probably had a lot more than the computer ripped off.....oh yeah!
  11. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    Yup... this is the 'do you do what's right' or 'do you do what many people would do if they thought they would get away with it?'

    The fact that you're nervous about hooking it up etc means you know what you should do. Contact the police and see if anyone has reported one stolen - who knows if not, you'll get it back.

    Alternatively if you can live with the guilt of having a 'tainted' G5, then reformat it. I guess it depends on the situation of the original owner. If I knew that he/she had been insured and now had a nice new shiny G5 to play with, I'd feel less bad about reformatting it. If the original owner is sitting at home staring at an empty G5 box, I'd like to think I'd give it up - and try to get the police to trace the guy with my $1500.

    There was a case on uk.comp.sys.mac where a guy posted that he'd possibly found a stolen PB (someone offered to sell but when they brought it round, he booted it up, found a different login and threatened to call the police so the thief legged it). The owner also posted on the newsgroup in case anyone was offered a PB cheap - both parties happy!
  12. lushbudget macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2005
    Whatcha gotta do is..

    Don't do anything silly, now - $1500 is $1500 and now that you've bought the computer it is legally yours (possession is 9 tenths of the law) - but IF the computer is stolen, you have a civic responsibility to attempt to make it available to it's original owner - the best way to do this is to CHECK WITH THE LOCAL POLICE - If the computer was stolen, they will have the serial number on file in the police report. They will be able to tell you if the machine is missed by someone that it was stolen from.

    And ask yourself some questions: Did you get the install discs with it? If not, maybe the guy you bought it from didn't have them, OR he just didn't know how to or want to be bothered with changing the short name on the users account. Not everyone out there is as Mac savvy as they ought to be. My mother-in-law freaks out when she has to drag mounted discs to the trash to eject them on her Rev C iMac!

    If there is no police report, the machine is legally yours - change the registration and happy trails - if it's not, you may be obligated to MAKE IT AVAILABLE to the original owner, but depending on your state's laws, he/she may have to compensate you (or their insurance company may have to) for the money spent to recover the stolen merchandise. I did not get this from Judge Judy - my mother-in-law is a criminal defense attorney and she said so.

    But don't take a MacRumour forum post as gospel; ask the police. They'll tell you that unless you arranged to receive goods that you knew were stolen, or found out that goods were stolen and did NOTHING about it, that you cannot be charged with receiving stolen goods.
  13. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Well you can always go down to the police station to see if the guy filed a police report, but then there's a good chance you'd be stuck giving the machine up -- along with giving the police information about the person you bought it from.

    Knowing the adress of the guy, and the description just may help them track his ass down to get your money back.

    The basic trouble you'd be in for buying stolen merchandise is if the deal was too good to be true from the start, you should have known it wasn't legit (and $1000 below retail comes darn close to that.)

    Usually you're stuck giving up the stolen merchandise.

    However, there are quite a few people in college who do end up turning machines over quickly when they need the cash. So it may be legit.


    It's up to you though: if it'll eat at you for using stolen equipment -- track the guy down, but don't give it back directly -- let the police do it.

    If it is stolen, another bunch here would say -- use it 'til you lose it or it breaks (can't get it fixed without a flare firing), or use it until it's worthless (since you can't sell stolen merchandise without digging a deeper hole by trafficking stolen merchandise.)
  14. Sir_Giggles macrumors 6502a


    Dec 18, 2003
    I probably approach this from a different attitude. Basically by buying a suspicious computer, and you feel the need to turn it over the police for the rightful owner, you lose money in the end. Unless the victim compensates you.

    The problem I see with this is, it is the original owner's responsibility and duty to protect his computer from theft, anything from bolted doors, cable locks, backup of data, insurance, etc. His irresponsiblity should not mean you have to suffer the burden of suffering a fiancial loss.

    Secondly, thieves will be thieves so the only protection you have is some form of identification, and that includes telephone numbers (that he has answered) to name and physical appearance, before purchasing from anyone.

    Finally, contacting Apple will be fruitless. Apple will not get involved in these types of matters and will refer you to your local authorities. Apple sees no vested interest nor profit from helping you, not to mean it in a bad sense, but they won't get involved.
  15. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Since you don't actually have any direct information verifying the computer was stolen, the police are unlikely to take the computer from you unless *they* have evidence that it was stolen. So if you want to do the right thing, go to them and explain. Alternatively, reverse phonebook the original owner online (he/she may not be in your town anymore) and call them....

    But it's good of you to want to do the right thing. More people should be like that.

    Also, out of curiousity, when you talked to Apple, were they willing to let you re-register it in your name? Isn't there a process for that with them? I guess this is an interesting word to the wise. If they are willing to help, I guess it's worth it to ask a potential seller for a serial number and call Apple to verify that they are the rightful owner! :eek:
  16. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    I didn't say take the machine down, but go down and see if the guy filed a police report (and if the serial number turns up stolen.)

    If he did, you may end up having to cough the machine up -- since it belongs to the other guy.

    You will end up having to see if they can get your money back from the guy you bought it from.
  17. SDLSteve thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2004
    Thanks for all of the advice. I will call the police tomorrow and see what they say.

    I wasn't suspicious until I got it home and saw the different name. Personally, I thought I got a great deal on the computer ($1000 under a new one) but he was asking a fair price of $1900 originally. I was thinking the power of cash was the deciding factor.

    I never thought about it being refurbished. I hope that is what happened. Unfortunately, I didn't even think about the start up disks because I have my own set up to OS X.3

    I did a search of the college directory online and didn't find the name on that either.

    I will let you know what I find out.
  18. SDLSteve thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2004
    Yes, they said I could re-register it. I thought that was strange as I explicitly asked the guy if it was stolen and he kept referencing to the apple care program?
  19. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Heck, if Apple is willing to change the name to yours -- change it.

    I don't think they'd be quite willing to if it was stolen, were they trying to sell you Applecare?

    All depends on when the warranty runs out.

    Though buying AppleCare may not be too wise until you check with the police, though most on here would tell people to report the machine stolen to both the police and Apple.
  20. Jovian9 macrumors 68000


    Feb 19, 2003
    Planet Zebes
    Perhaps the guy you bought it from never bothered changing the information on the hard drive or calling Apple to change the registration to his name. If he did not call them, Apple would still have the original buyer down as the registered owner of the G5. I usually upgrade my Macs b/t 12-18 months and the people I sell them to have to actually call Apple and change that specific computer registration from me to them. If they do not, then those Macs are still registered to me even though I no longer have them.
  21. Sir_Giggles macrumors 6502a


    Dec 18, 2003
    Maybe it was never stolen. Sometimes people dont care and are too lazy to wipe their hard drives clean.
  22. nospleen macrumors 68020


    Dec 8, 2002
    I guess you can look at the bright side. If the guy who sold it to you is a thief, at least he did not just rob you for the cash. I cannot believe you showed up with 1500 cash to a strangers. :eek:
  23. snkTab macrumors 6502a


    Nov 13, 2004
    Cincinnati, OH
    I would suggest maybe contacting the seller and ask him to explain. You might have his cell. You might make an arrangement to get the money back.

    Secondly, just keep it. Things get stolen. That's why people pay for security and insurance. If they had insurance then you're really only hurting yourself with your loss, which would suck. If they didn't then they risked losing it and they did. I know it's mean. If the victim wants it back he can sue the seller himself for the price of it. But what if it's not stolen also. The police are going to go through so much crap, probally even take it without even verifiying if it's stolen or not. Check this out..

    As for law, It's only illegal (misdemeanor) if you "know" it's stolen when you bought it. Meaning, either you know for a fact it's stolen or you bought it from a back of a truck for $200 if you took it off there hands now. Buying from someone who looks like he was moving is not illegal, cause you don't know and people sell stuff when they move. Somethings, like cars and stocks you have to and should report if it is stolen, as those are in a different category.
  24. wwooden macrumors 68000


    Jul 26, 2004
    Burlington, VT
    here's the solution

    I can solve your problem, I'll buy it off you for $1600. :)

    (of course, I'll need your information----can never be too careful these days)

    j/k, enjoy YOUR new computer.
  25. Kwyjibo macrumors 68040


    Nov 5, 2002
    Let me run through a few things for you. First of all its great that you feel bad but this is probably outside of your control now and you should just enjoy the computer. If the person had a g5 stolen they probably had many other things stolen and if they had insurance they probably made a claim. If this happened they probably got reimbursed for the machine already and it would goto the insurance company (same way it works with a car if they already cut the person a check for the property).

    As for not finding this person, theres tons of reasons this could be, I live on campus but I'm not in the local phone book, i don't have a landline, that doesn't mean i'm a criminal. The person could have legally changed his or her name for a personal reason.

    I think your attempts to return the machine are futile, you can't really help anyone probably. The way I see it you have two options, keep the machine you got at the bargain and assume that sometimes your lucky and you got a deal. Sell the machine on eBay for full market value, make up some story why your selling it and donate the excess of $1500 to your favorite charity. atleast then your kinda giving something back to society if you really feel like you took so much advantage of it ... I would keep the machine but thats just how I am.

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