Macbook Pro Serial Numbers Don't Match

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Pedactor, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. Pedactor macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2014
    Hi Everyone....I just bought my first MBP. Unfortunately I couldn't afford to buy new so I waited for a long time to find a good deal on Craigslist.

    I'm new to Mac's so I looked up all the things to look for and I checked the Serial # on "About this Mac" against the apple database and everything checked out. I played around with the Mac for 45 minutes....everything worked great. I've had it for a few days now and again everything is running great and I've edited a few video projects on it.

    Guy said he was a Graphic Designer and was upgrading to a new iMac. He conveniently forgot his ID, all he had was his business cards. All in all with the time spent testing the machine and everything checking out online I wasn't too worried I guess. My issue is that I kept feeling I got "too good" of a deal so I went back on Craigslist past few days and each time I see a new ad from same guy selling a different MBP. Today I read some forums and they mentioned the serial # on the bottom of the MBP....which I didn't know was there due to me being an Apple noob. What I found was that the Serial # there and the "About this Mac" don't match. When I run the new Serial # through the database it still shows the same specs, just a few months earlier build date and still shows warranty (it's a 2012).

    Based on the fact this guy is clearly selling these machines on Craigslist (not just one to upgrade his like he said) and the serial #'s don't match...what should I be concluding? Is it stolen? Is it fake? Refurbished by himself??

    As mentioned it works great as far as I can tell....haven't seen any issues in the few days I've had it and I've used it for a number of hours now. Sorry for the long winded post. Hope you can help. Thanks.
  2. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    So he is clearly selling them but likely the removable bottom just got swapped, providing the About This Mac serial check out you are OK (could still be stolen but you have checked as much as you can do).

    The bottom might have been swapped as its original was damaged or missing, or just in error after replacing other parts....
  3. Merode macrumors 6502


    Nov 5, 2013
    Warszawa, Poland
    I'd contact Apple and ask about both serials.
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I don't think apple would divulge any information about the macs - even if he's the new owner.
  5. Crugga macrumors regular

    Nov 25, 2010
    Personally I wouldnt stress about it.
    Enjoy the machine, the base takes 20 seconds to remove and therefore 40 seconds to replace. He may well of picked one up off ebay due to a dent or something.
    If the about my Mac serial checks out I really wouldnt worry about it.
  6. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2013
    I once called Apple about the warranty on a replacement battery and when they told me to give them the serial number on the machine itself the operator proceeded to asking me if I was someone else. I immediately realized that what I gave them was actually the serial number from another machine that I had bought for spare parts and the name was that came up was that of the previous owner.

    The reason for this was that the serial number on the pre-unibody Macbook Pro's is on the top case, which I had gotten from the spare parts machine after too many spillages on the original top case had killed the keyboard backlight (I'm more careful now).

    So you may be able to do it with a straight up request, never tried it myself, or then you might have to try a bit of what is commonly known as "social engineering".

    The way you'd do it would be something like this:
    - Call them up (don't give your name when you start the call and go straight to business)
    - Describe a made up slightly more serious problem (say screen went dark and the machine no longer responds to anything)
    - Give them the serial number when asked (they actually have a registry of machines and names of people who have bought them)
    - Wait until the operator asks to confirm that you're the person whose name is attached to the serial number
    - If they try to ask you for your name at some earlier point, try to distract them by giving the serial number instead
  7. drambuie macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2010
    This brings up an interesting question. If the logic board is replaced by Apple, do they copy the original serial number to the new firmware, or does the MBP end up with the serial number of the new board?
  8. dwfaust macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    Yes. I had the system board in my 2010 MBP replaced to resolve an issue, and it came back with the same serial number. Apple will update the serial number with the original serial.

    On a side note, one of my kids now uses my old 2010 white MB. At one time it had the issue with the rubber separating from the bottom cover. Apple sent me a new one with the instructions to use a Sharpie and write my MB serial number on the inside of the cover before replacing it.

    I would think that the serial number reported by "About This Mac" would trump anything written, printed or engraved on the computer - especially since those external numbers are written, printed or engraved on a removable (and therefore, replaceable) part.
  9. happyfrappy macrumors 6502

    Oct 14, 2007
    Location eh?
    Graphic designers typically own a spare Mac or two of the same year, chances are the guy mixed up the bottom case while removing the aftermarket HDD/SSD to bring it back to the factory HDD. On the other hand he could be a DIY IT guy of his "studio" and is part of the usual replacement cycle.

    Keep in mind when you take a Mac to the Genius Bar(or mail-in service) they boot your Mac via ethernet for a server based Apple Hardware Test and grab the serial number for the work order. If you don't use a hard shell case, the letters/markings on the bottom of most MacBook Pros rub off as they age which is why Apple plugs in the Mac to grab the S/N. My 2010 MBP markings rubbed off like my older 12" PowerBook G4.
  10. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Yes, they do.

    My 2011 came back after the two logic board replacements with the correct serial number reported in software.
  11. Pedactor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2014

    Thanks for all the replies everyone. I guess at the end of it I have an awesome MBP that works great and got a good deal should just enjoy it and stop worrying.
  12. skinny*k macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2011
    FWIW, some folks buy broken machines and build good ones from the working parts; its perfectly legal, so long as no stolen machines are used. If that Craigslist vender is doing that, i think he should be more forthcoming, but it makes him a liar, and it doesn't make you a criminal.
  13. vrod2k macrumors newbie

    Sep 6, 2014
    Hi Pedactor, did this happen to you in Florida? I had the same experience a few days ago. The guy told me the same story.

    So the serial number in "About this Mac > More Info" "Overview" tab has the apple care warranty, but if I then click on the "Service" link tab located at the top right of the "About This Mac" window and choose the "Check my Service and Support coverage status" The serial number that gets sent to Apple is the one that is etched on the bottom on the Mac I just purchased. Which does NOT have the apple care warranty and is not the one in the first "About this Mac > More Info" "Overview" tab. Does this also happen to you? Can anyone explain how/why this might be happening?
  14. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Bottom case/panel is not the the original one paired with the logic board. So either that case/panel or the logic board have been replaced.
  15. vrod2k macrumors newbie

    Sep 6, 2014

    No that is not it. The bottom case and logic board have the same serial number. It is the About this mac overview tab - the one that everyone looks at that is different.

    UPDATE: I wiped this macbook pro from the recovery partition and it is now showing the correct serial number that is i the bottom of the case. So apparently, someone can change the About this Mac serial number to a "fake" number. :mad:
  16. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    About this Mac/System Profiler reads the serial number from the logic board NVRAM. If I was to hazard a guess it's more likely the hard drive was cloned or swapped with one from another unit that had an OS X problem with corrupted system files or bad permissions, than someone faking the serial number. They'd have to be a really dumb scammer to go to the trouble of faking it in software and not physically removing the etched SN from the bottom case.
  17. joshuapinsky macrumors newbie

    Jun 4, 2016
    --- Post Merged, Jun 4, 2016 ---
    Hey the same thing happened to me and i bought my computer from craigslist in Miami FL. My applecare which i thought was still good, is null and void now because it was determined it was a fake.

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