I purchased a "stolen" iPhone. What can I do?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by elipses, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. elipses macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2014
    Last year I bought an iPhone 4 that was a display phone at an AT&T reseller. It was sold to me despite being listed as "lost in transit/stolen". I didn't discover this until I tried to use the phone many months later and found out it was blocked. AT&T won't unblock it. Is there any way to get around this so that the phone is usable again? I have no idea how this works.
  2. Chatter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 10, 2013
    Uphill from Downtown
    Nope. You are screwed.
    Sell it on ebay for parts and make sure you mark it as such. This might be your best bet unless someone else has a better solution.
  3. flyinmac macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2006
    United States
    I'd take the receipt and the phone back to AT&T (or reseller where you purchased it) and tell them that they have apparently sold you stolen products and you expect them to make it right.

    Surely this wouldn't be good for them if you went and reported to the authorities that you were sold illegal stolen merchandise at a local store.
  4. Goldinboy17 macrumors 65816


    Jun 21, 2010
    San Francisco, Ca
    You're pretty much out of luck, though I feel compelled to ask why you would wait months before trying to use it?
  5. newellj macrumors 603

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    Didn't you go back to the reseller and demand your money back?
  6. Mitman macrumors newbie

    Sep 20, 2012
    Yeah, its pretty much a brick now. This is locked by iOS so AT&T can't help you and Apple definitely won't. Not sure why you waited so long to use it but now you could either sell it for parts and recover some of your money altough I'm not sure how much that would be, especially for a 4 that is activation locked. Or you could have some fun with it and smash it or open it up or something else more creative.
  7. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    I think it is also possible, that there is more to the story that we have been told.

    Very fishy not to check the phone right away and if there is a problem, return it. Instead of going to the source, the person comes here to ask about how to unlock it.

    Story sounds bogus to me.
  8. elipses thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2014
    Wonderful. I'm pretty upset AT&T won't unblock it despite ample proof I didn't steal it.
  9. lordofthereef macrumors G5


    Nov 29, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Who sold it to you?
  10. elipses thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2014
    I did. I don't have the receipt any more as it was a year ago, but I have a credit card statement and AT&T records showing that the store activated the phone for me at the same time. The company has since been sold to another one that claims to no longer have records of the sale nor responsibility for it. I sent a demand letter asking for the sum I paid but am still waiting to hear back from them. Either I move forward and sue, or give up.


    I used it for a few days (during which it worked fine) but didn't like it and got a different phone instead, and kept it so that I could use it later or so a family member could (my sisters are always losing their phones). Sure enough I tried to use it abroad this summer and didn't have any service; also, my sister lost her phone recently and I wanted to give her this one, but no luck.


    Not sure how to prove it without actually showing you the records or the demand letter that was sent. And like I said, it worked fine when I was using it for the first few days. An AT&T help person told me that despite it being listed as stolen immediately, it wasn't actually blocked from service until February (when it was sitting unused in my drawer).
  11. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
  12. HolyGrail, Nov 6, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2014

    HolyGrail macrumors 6502


    Nov 21, 2010
    Planet Earth
    That's not the reason they won't unlock it. They won't unlock it because it shows in their system as stolen property, and regardless of you not being the thief, and regardless of where you bought the phone. It still shows in their system as stolen. From their perspective, you received stolen property........property that can't legally be sold to you.

    You may be upset AT&T won't unblock it, but it is, what it is.

    Bottom Line...................you're screwed.

    Best of luck. ;)
  13. elipses thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2014
    I understand. I'm less upset with AT&T and more upset that the reseller won't reimburse me/upset at the situation as a whole.
  14. tritron macrumors regular

    Oct 5, 2014
  15. WolfSnap macrumors 6502a


    Sep 18, 2012
    If you purchase a stolen *anything*, you never actually purchased it.

    The seller had no right to sell it.

    You had no right to buy it.

    Give it back to the owner, and learn your lesson.

    If you used a credit card, and you legitimately had no idea it was stolen, the credit card company should be able to recover the money (maybe) for you.

    However, most of the time, you're just SOL.
  16. Southern Dad macrumors 68000

    Southern Dad

    May 23, 2010
    Shady Dale, Georgia
    There is another thing you need to be concerned about... Right now, you are in possession of stolen property. Depending on the value and the state laws, it could be a felony or just a misdemeanor but either way, YOU COULD GO TO JAIL if caught with that phone in your possession. If a police report was filed, you could be at risk. Find that receipt. Tape it to the phone until you get it straightened out.

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