I unknowingly purchased a stolen iphone through craigslist. Am in trouble?

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by teachme32, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. teachme32 macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2013
    I bought an iphone4s few days back on craiglist. We communicated by email and met on a public place. I checked the phone with my AT&T sim card. Gave him cash and came home.
    After 2 days when I tried to make calls using my AT&T sim, my sim got blocked. I went to the AT&T store, they restored my account but informed me that this phone has been reported as lost or stolen. I tried to contact the seller by craiglist-email but he has deleted his account/advertisemnt, and he does not reply at all. I think he intentially sold a stolen phone to me.

    I know I have lost my money but can I be further in trouble (like police) even if I don't use this phone now.
    I am afraid that I used this phone for some hours. Like I tried to activated it but I was not successful.
    I used my iCloud and apple id with this phone for few hours. My AT&T sim card was also connected for few hours using this phone.

    Will AT&T or Apple report my identity to Police or its original owner? Please help what should I do?
  2. cjmillsnun macrumors 68020

    Aug 28, 2009
    First off, don't panic.

    You were scammed I assume you have the original conversation you had with him by email before you bought?

    If so then make a statement with the police now, and submit the emails as evidence. You can kiss goodbye to the phone. It's now useless. But I doubt any action will be taken against you. You bought the phone in good faith and got screwed.
  3. AlliFlowers Contributor


    Jan 1, 2011
    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    I'm surprised that it was even blocked by AT&T. But in answer to your question, no, you probably won't get in any trouble for unknowingly purchasing stolen merchandise. Always a good idea for future transactions to check the IMEI of the device you're purchasing.
  4. MICHAELSD macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    1. You overpaid.
    2. If you're stuck with it sell it internationally. Not that I'd advocate this but you lost money already. It'll work overseas.
  5. teachme32 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2013

    Yes, I have email correspondence made with the seller but he used craiglist-email feature and not his original email id. I am afraid to go to police as I don't have any other evidence.

    Can AT&T or Apple put me in trouble?


    I am not worried about the money I lost. But fear if I can be any legal trouble?
  6. cjmillsnun macrumors 68020

    Aug 28, 2009
    Craigslist email is actually perfect. The police if they can be bothered can ask craigslist for the IP address of the person concerned and the details they gave when they signed up.

    I doubt either AT&T or Apple will take any action in calling the police, but if you go to the police without any prompting, they are more likely to believe you than if Apple or AT&T report you and you say nothing until they knock on your door.
  7. XboxMySocks macrumors 68020


    Oct 25, 2009
    Take it to the police station and bring the printed emails, tell them that it was reported as stolen by AT&T and you purchased it from someone on craigslist. They will send you on your way.
  8. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    IANAL, but in my educated guess you should be OK. Obviously, you don't have title to the phone since it was stolen, but it isn't as if you had the intent to purchase something stolen. My advice would be to file a police report. It shows good faith on your part, and maybe the original owner will be able to recover the phone.

    Also, check to see if your homeowner/renter's insurance provides coverage in cases like this.
  9. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    Agreed. Do what's right, maybe it'll get back to the owner, maybe it won't. You will have done the right thing. With the email trails and such you shouldn't end up in any trouble.

    If you take the bad advice of selling it internationally there's zero chance of righting the wrong and you'll have helped the crook succeed. Plus, you will be knowingly participating in selling stolen property, which might get you in trouble if it ever comes back to you.
  10. mcdj macrumors G3


    Jul 10, 2007
    Post an ad on CL that reads something like this:

    "To the person who sold me an iPhone on <date> at <location>... The phone came up as reported lost. I returned it to AT&T and gave them my number in case the owner never claimed it. The next day, I got a call from an old lady from <a town near you>. She was so happy to have her phone back, she is sending me a $500 reward. I don't feel right taking it, but she insists. I think since you are the one who likely found it, you should have it. Email me to meet up."

    Bring cops.
  11. johnparjr macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2005
    You could be charged with receiving stolen property because ignorance that it is stolen is not an excuse but I seriously doubt that would happen its a very low priority crime

    Receiving stolen property is defined by statute in most states. Generally it consists of four elements: (1) the property must be received; (2) it must have been previously stolen; (3) the person receiving the property must know it was stolen; and (4) the receiver must intend to deprive the owner of his or her property.

    A person receives stolen property by acquiring or taking manual possession of it. Physical possession, however, is not always required. Under some statutes, it is sufficient if the accused has exercised control over the property. For example, a statute may declare that paying for the property constitutes control, regardless of whether the accused has handled it.

    In many jurisdictions a belief that the property is stolen satisfies the knowledge element. It has been held that a mere suspicion does not constitute knowledge. Some statutes provide that a person has knowledge if he knows, or has reason to know, that goods are stolen. Another test is whether a reasonable person would suspect that the property was stolen. Knowledge is commonly proved by the circumstances surrounding the receipt of the property. For example, unexplained possession of goods that were recently stolen raises a presumption that the possessor received them illegally.

    In order to be guilty, the receiver must intend to deprive the owner of the property. The crime is committed even if the receiver intends to obtain a reward for returning the property because she has gained a benefit from depriving the owner of possession, even temporarily.


    An honest, although mistaken, belief that property is not stolen is a defense to the crime of receiving stolen property. Intoxication is another defense, but the intoxication must be severe enough to prevent any knowledge that the property was stolen. Infancy and insanity are also good defenses.


    The punishment for receiving stolen property is a fine or imprisonment. The term of years imposed varies from state to state. In jurisdictions where value is an element of the offense, the severity of the penalty is commensurate with the value of the goods. Where value is not an element, it might still be significant in determining the severity of the punishment.

    Civil Remedies

    In a majority of states, the person whose property was stolen may bring a conversion action against the receiver of stolen property. If the accused is found to have converted the property, the victim has a choice of remedies. The victim may demand that the accused return the stolen property or may require the accused to pay the full value of the property at the time it was converted.

    Federal Law

    Receiving stolen property is proscribed by federal statute (18 U.S.C.A. § 662) when it occurs within the maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the United States or when such property has moved in interstate commerce.
  12. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    While the above is generally true, it's not really helpful to the OP.

    Fact is the OP has a phone he now knows is lost or stolen. He's looking for advice on what to do now.

    The answer to that question is take it to the police along with the email trails and any other potential evidence. I'm no lawyer but I have a hard time believing he'd suffer anything other than a bit of questioning.

    Based on what he's posted, items (3) and (4) above would be very difficult for a prosecutor to prove if he takes the phone to the police now. Yes, if you buy a $2000 computer from a guy on a street corner for $200 there's a basis to say a reasonable person would suspect it was stolen. Buying a used phone at market price though a typical channel; tough to show he should have suspected anything.

    Where (3) and (4) come in to play is if he doesn't turn it in and later gets caught (improbable but possible).
  13. BSDanalyst macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2013
    Hong Kong
    What legal trouble? Are you that dumb? Coordinate with the police and trace that ****er to get your money back.
  14. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Watch for the Blackhawk helicopter and masked agents. :D
  15. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    How much did he pay? I don't see where he mentioned how much so how can you say he overpaid?

    OP, don't do the above. Take it to the police with the e-mails printed as someone else has said.
  16. bursthead, Oct 14, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013

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