My Craigslist Nightmare

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Type R, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. Type R macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2013
    Hello guys,

    I'm fairly new to this forum, but I'd like to share a story that you might all need to know.

    Without locations or names mentioned, I purchased a brand new top of the line 15.4in" Retina Macbook pro at $2000 sealed in the box. Little did I know, I knew it was good to be true.

    Days later, I got a phone call by local law enforcement stating that I purchased a stolen laptop from an individual. However, I simply said, "I'm not going to speak to anyone without my attorney." I figured saying that would be much wiser whether he really was a cop or some prankster.

    Another two days past, and I got the same phone call. At this point, I figured that this was really the police, and I started talking to them. As we spoke and introduced himself, he started to tell me about their case. Apparently, the individual that sold it to me was involved in some kind of robbery or identity theft in stealing these products, and that they found evidence (which is my phone number) of them calling me on their cellphone. However, I simply stated that I will no longer speak to them without a presence of my attorney.

    Apparently, from my view, it seems like the guy started to rat out all the innocent buyers he scammed.

    Now, I am stuck in a serious dilemma. My family says to just toss them the laptop back, but $2000 is serious money to some people like me. Another thought at it, is it possible I can win a case by denying it?

    Now, here are a few questions and pointers:

    Local police only know me by my first name, and they ONLY have my phone number. The only possible way is for them to subpoena my records to find me, would this be even worth it for them? Another bad scenario, that this whole thing is from some robber, professional prankster, or scammer. I won't know for sure.

    If this would turn into some serious case, I don't have the laptop at hand in my home. Another thing that drives it, is that they think I might be involved in the seller's activities. Would simply denying it win me this case? Or should I just turn it in to them and give myself up. Another thing, can Apple really give up a serial number to the authorities? Or would this violate any privacy laws. This whole problem is driving me paranoid and insane!

    In the end, if I had to do it, I would have to just turn it in.

    If all this were true and law enforcement might track all buyers of such an expensive laptop, I would have never thought that police would be so vigilant about it (in that case, it would clear up the misconception of lazy donut eaters). Either way, it is just a bad situation for me.

    For those that buy expensive Apple products from craigslist (or anywhere else for that matter), BEWARE!

    Always ASK the buyer for any receipts!

    And ask where they have purchased it.

    If they don't have any proof of purchase, you run the risk of buying it stolen! Some may buy them and get away with it, but there are a few unlucky ones out there!

    Also, as a safety measure, block your number! Being a simple one time buyer justifies it. Unless you are running a business on craigslist and need to maintain ethics, it is always important to protect your identity! Don't give your true number to total strangers!

    Learn from my mistakes, and this situation won't happen to you! Otherwise, when it comes to craigslist, buy at your own risk!
  2. dragonjinse macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2013
    Thank you for sharing this experience to us!
    I'm so sorry for you. I just purchased my first macbook pro 15" on ebay 5 days ago. And I was very concerned about if I got the stolen one.
    I kept asking the seller for the proof of purchase, but he didn't save the receipt and even original box!

    It's kinda of scared me a bit.. But we kept communicating for 2 days before I paid the laptop. Therefore, I think he was kind enough (maybe) and I can trust him. Well, it turned out that my laptop is fantastic!
    It's the same as seller's description. He contacted me everyday to let me know what was the shipping status.

    So before you buy something valuable (especially Macbook Pro!), contact the seller and ask many questions as you want before buying it!

    I got to know an ebay seller who gave me his phone number..
    We started texting back and forth for a week. He tried to gave me cMBP deals.
    He offered me $1700 for 1TB, 16GB 2.6 cMBP anti-glare 15"!
    It's very good deal right? But I ignored it! Because he kept pushing me to pay right away. Warning me that it might be gone by tonight etc.

    When I told him I already got the rMBP (my current one) for $2000.
    He asked for the list# on ebay to check (WTH!).. After he checked, he told me this seller only sold 45 items blah blah blah.. But he (the seller) sold more than 200 laptops...

    I just ignored him and bought my current rmbp!

    Well. I'm writing a novel now. I just want to tell people that there are still good sellers out there. But yeah, there are still BAD sellers out there too.

  3. DrippKeeper macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2012
    It does not matter if you block your number, the police have many resources to find out your location at any given time. You are at risk of being charged with a felony receiving stolen property, which depending on which state you live in is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

    If it is truly a detective calling you then you need to cooperate, its only a matter of time before they find you and arrest you. Not cooperating is not helping your case. But be sure that it is truly a police officer that you are speaking too, tell them you want to come down and speak with them in person, if you feel the need bring your lawyer.
  4. oldhifi, Jul 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2013

    oldhifi macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2013
    talk to the police, give it up or you could get jail time
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Here is the problem at this point as I see it.

    I am assuming here you are in the USA.

    Up until you got that phone call from the police, you could legitimately claim you innocently bought a stolen laptop. Now however, the police have told you it is stolen, yet you are still keeping the laptop.

    As mentioned earlier, it is trivial for the police to find you from that phone number. Next step will be them getting a search warrant to come to your house to get the laptop. Then the police and district attorney will have to decide if they have enough evidence now to charge you with possession of stolen property.

    You should hire an attorney to navigate you out of this mess.

    Your attorney will likely contact the police and make a deal where you give up the laptop and give a full statement in exchange for the district attorney agreeing not to try and prosecute you.

    In cases like this the police are more interested in using you as a witness against the thief than they are interested in charging you. But now things are a bit complicated with you essentially refusing to turn over a stolen laptop.
  6. rocknblogger macrumors 68020


    Apr 2, 2011
    New Jersey
    You have already made mistakes and you're making it worse by not talking to the police. If you make them do the work and expend the resources to find you, I can almost guarantee that you'll get charged with some kind of possession of stolen property charge. It depends on the state as to what the charges will be.

    Either call the local police station and explain the situation or hire a lawyer to do it for you. If you hire a lawyer it's going to cost you a lot more than just returning the laptop. Forget about the money. That's gone and the police probably can't help you unless they seized money in the case. And if they did and you continue to give them a hard time you're less likely to get anything back.

    Stop making stupid mistakes and give up the laptop ASAP.
  7. ScottJonesDOP macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2013
    This is by no means against your character, but with that said, turn it in. I would not entertain the idea of denying it even if you knew you could %100 get away with it. Honesty goes a LONG way. It's just the right thing to do.

    With that said, I know $2000 is painful to loose. However that is why we have small claims court. If the detective takes the money, then suing the individual that sold it too you for $2000 should be no problem at all. =)
  8. Darth.Titan macrumors 68030


    Oct 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    If the police have only called at this point, I'd be suspicious as to whether you're actually speaking to the police. Legitimate law enforcement should have looked you up and come knocking on your door by now, not kept politely calling.

    If they call again, ask the officer's name and badge number, and verify it yourself. Otherwise, you may be getting scammed.

    If it is the police, meet the officer at the station and turn in the evidence. You don't have much choice unless you enjoy jail time. Receiving stolen property is a big deal. It sucks you're out the $2000, but live and learn.
  9. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    This. You need to do a reality check. If you think denying something gets you out of trouble then you're wrong. If you think having just a cell phone number makes it nearly impossible to find you, you're wrong. You aren't being smart. You need to call the detective and get their info to verify they're really a detective. Once you know this is real, give them the laptop or ask what they want from you. If your parents haven't stepped in then they're wrong. They need to help you if you're a minor.
  10. ugahairydawgs macrumors 68030


    Jun 10, 2010
    You are holding stolen property, the police has contacted you more than once about it, and you are still trying to think of ways to keep it?

    Unless you have an affinity for having your fingerprints taken you need to be proactive in handing in the evidence you are in possession of.
  11. CaptHenryMorgan macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2013
    The District
    You told the cops that you wouldn't speak to them without an attorney, and you've made no mention of actually having an attorney? Oh boy, I hope you shaved your ass for jail.
  12. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    What you are doing is wrong one way or another. I do debate if it really is the police calling you. One way to be certain is ask for a name and badge number. At that point in time tell the officer that you will call him back. Call the local precinct in your area and ask for that officer by name and badge number. This will at least confirm if it is the police calling. If he gives you a number to call back, do not call that number. Look the precinct number up in the phone book. This will let you talk to someone else before being handed over to them if they exist.

    One way or another, be it real or not, at that point in time I would make sure to talk to an officer. Explain your situation to them. If they ask you to come in, then do it. I would also speak to a lawyer before going in though and let the police know you will be doing that. Because if the computer is stolen and you are avoiding talking to the police, you are opening up something you may not be interested in dealing with.

    Yes I understand it is a lot of money, but criminal charges can ruin your life. Even more so if you are young. Don't take the chance, it is not worth the risk.
  13. SoIsays macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2011
    OP, keep that laptop until you get an official written notice to turn that laptop in. Right now, the (alleged) police have nothing other than a phone number and an alleged stolen merchandise transaction.
  14. jwjsr macrumors 6502


    Mar 15, 2012
    Fairhope, Alabama
    Fantastic idea, sue the thief in small claims court,,lol,lol,lol!
  15. einmusiker macrumors 68030


    Apr 26, 2010
    Location: Location:
    you are being scammed. the police will not just call you they would show up at your house.
  16. Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2012
    Lol. This is a great thread.

    First, the cops don't need to subpoena your records. That's lawyer stuff. The cops can find your name and address without a subpoena. Hell most of the people on the forum could find your address with just your number and name.

    Second, the police are calling you? Which police? Where? From what office? What are their names, ranks and badge numbers? Call the actual police yourself and confirm. Real police will provide such information.

    Third, your responses are utterly surreal. Act like a reasonable adult and handle it by askin the actual police to confirm who is calling you. Are you using caller Id? You seem to have a dirth of any information that would even be vaguely useful.

    As for any legal advice, I assume you're a kid because only lawyers can give legal advice. For anyone else it's unauthorized practice of law, and nobody wants to be punished for that.
  17. BanjoBanker macrumors 6502


    Aug 10, 2006
    Mt Brook, AL
    I can tell you there has been some good advice vis-a-vis calling the police to verify the phone calls. And yes, this is an awful place to come for legal advice. It is worth exactly what you are paying for it, NOTHING. Check out the detectives story and if legit, turn in the laptop, immediately. If you can not afford an attorney, contact the local legal aid society and talk with one there. If half of your supposed responses are true, you may already be in the loop for charges, they do not have to inform as such. Also, as others have said, they have your cell number, so they also have your name and the address the cell bill goes to unless it is a pre-paid. They know who you are and where you live, do not be foolish and think otherwise. You have nothing to gain by not cooperating and everything to lose.
  18. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    The specifics and position of the OP aside, unfortunately there's an awfully large group of various scams that are being perpetrated on Craigslist, and similar sites.

    Me? I enjoy the totally stress free ease of clicking on Gazelle, and letting them do the rest. I may not get top dollar, but it's done, and I've had wonderful service from them, with the check arriving very quickly.

    After several transactions with Gazelle, all of which have been fast, and trouble free, I'm a regular now. :D
  19. rocknblogger macrumors 68020


    Apr 2, 2011
    New Jersey
    Not true. If the police are working on the case the first thing they'll do is see who will be cooperative by simply making contact via phone call. It saves them time and money if you cooperate by coming in and surrendering the stolen property. Those that come in will more than likely be viewed as witnesses and people who got scammed. Those that refuse to come in or cooperate will be viewed as possible accomplices and will be further investigated.
  20. crzdcolombian macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2010
    I see the 27 inch iMac on craiglist in boston for 1300 all the time. It just seems too good to be true but 2k for a labtop is crazy. It sucks that you got hosed but who really drops that amount of money and doesn't actually use it.
  21. apatel87 macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2009
    Same thing

    I just wanted to chime in and give my experience because I had the same thing happen to me. I bought a new MacBook Pro from Craigslist. I had verified the SN with apple beforehand. I registered the computer no problem. 8 months later I get a call from the local PD stating that the computer was stolen and that they had tracked me down because I registered the computer. I turned the computer in and never got my money or thr computer back. I was a medical student, had a lot on plate, and had a lot to lose. I lost $1400 but WILL never buy from Craigslist again
  22. SilverOath macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2013

    Having recently been a victim of thieves I can tell you it's a terrible feeling. You stopped to consider what the person who was robbed of this is going through? If you paid 2,000 on CL they surely paid more -- not only that they could have had a lot more stolen at the time.

    FIRST -- make sure to call the precincts the detective 'claims' to be from and verify they are indeed real and that this isn't a scam. Just mention the situation and asked to be transferred to a detective and explain the story, who you talked to, etc.

    Unfortunately, even if it is a scam... they probably did not use a legitimately acquired MacBook as their bate. So regardless you are likely out of the laptop... but by being cooperative it gives you options to 'try' to recoup your money.

    SECOND -- as I and many others have mentioned cooperate with the police. I can't even imagine not trying to. I know from my own case (which the MacBook was recovered) that they have resources to figure out exactly who you are and come after you. In my case the thief was a 18 year old high school thug and now lives on a the run..... are you ready to live on your friends couches until you're caught?

    THIRD -- you should see if your renters or home owners insurance (or parents if you are still a student) will cover a portion of your losses. They may require you to prove how much you paid through bank withdrawals etc (of course remember the police have access to this so make sure you contact them immediately).

    LASTLY -- I've done my fair share of CLing. I believe I did everything right when I got robbed. I met a 'buyer/thief' inside of a bank with a security guard in broad daylight. I was assaulted and robbed walking to my car twenty feet from the bank entrance by that same person after they said they were not interested. Nonetheless, I've still had many more great experiences meeting some exceptionally awesome people through CL sales and purchases. I wouldn't let one jerk continue to 'victimize' you just because of a freak occurrence. Just be more careful in the future -- I generally ask the seller to sign a bill of sale, take a photo of their drivers license, see if they freely give you the serial number prior to meeting, and most importantly do my best to meet in a safe location.

    Hope your situation gets better -- but seriously I think starting with the police will go a long way to helping you sleep better.
  23. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
  24. nick42983 macrumors 6502


    May 18, 2009
    Unless you're the victim, you should never talk to police. Let them talk to your lawyer if they insist. This video is the best explanation of this advice that I've seen:

    Even if you are being contacted by real police officers, there is nothing good that can come from you talking to the police. You can incriminate yourself or your statements can be twisted to suit their purposes. For all you know you'll end up convicted as the thief.

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