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Thread: Is there a safe way to buy an iPhone off Craigslist?

  1. #1
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    Is there a safe way to buy an iPhone off Craigslist?

    My Verizon Droid 4 had the misfortune of being run over twice the day after Christmas (Suffice it to say I will never leave my phone on the hood of a vehicle while I help someone load the car again!) Since Verizon and I will be parting ways in 4 months, I don't want to pay the deductible on the insurance to replace it for that length of time.

    Pretty sure I'm going to go with Straight Talk, and am considering buying a used iPhone (4s most likely) to use on ST.

    Is there any way to be sure a used iPhone is clean and able to be activated? Trying not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish, but they are considerably cheaper via Craigslist than off eBay (eBay I assume would have a bit of protection, whereas I know CL won't) Is there a way to check on the phone to see if it has been factory unlocked? (If I'm understanding correctly, it needs to be for MMS to work on ST?)

    Is it possible to unlock a locked phone that the contract hasn't been completed on? (Saw one on eBay that can't be activated due to the carrier lock, and it made me curious if any of the unlock sites are legit and work)

    Thanks for any assistance

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    Try Swappa. It is a very reputable online resale by normal people who want their well kept phones to go to good homes. lol It is pretty well regulated, most sales go thru paypal, and you are protected.
    Never be afraid to try, but always know where your back up is when you screw up!

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    I have a factory LOCKed ATT 4S on ST, and managed to get MMS and data working just fine.
    There are a lot of conditions yo be considered, including which ios would be best.
    Also, you want a 4S locked to AT&T, if to any carrier.
    .
    To see if the phone is unlocked, you can put its IMEI into this site:
    http://iphoneox.com/
    Only the original owner of an AT&T iphone, can request a free unlock.
    .
    Another thing you don't want, is a phone still attached to a customer Apple cloud account, or with a password, as a stolen one might be.
    It will request a password to be activated, and there is no way around that.
    No amount of resetting nor wiping will fix the problem.
    .
    Lastly, there are no longer third party unlockers on eBay.
    The day of the $3, $5, $10 unlock are gone.
    You might get one for $100, but that would be foolish.

    .
    now with H2O, after Straight Talk LTE sim debacle 4th Quarter 2013.
    Currently on locked AT&T iPhone 4S. (backup: iPhone 4)
    iOS: 7.1.2, carrier: AT&T 16.0 , modem: 5.2.00 , Data & MMS just fine.
    Previously at: iOS 6.1.3, carrier 14.2, modem 3.4.03 .

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    Hi Anole, can you tell me more about how to use a locked AT&T 4S for ST? I think I found a decent seller on CL, he has a 4S in my price range, but says he was under the impression it wouldn't work with ST if it was locked. (He buys and sells/repairs them a lot, and was explaining why it's hard to find them unlocked (which concurred with what I've read) and said he'd be willing to meet and try to activate it with my ST SIM, but I'd like to know what I need to do before I waste his or my time.

    The phone I was talking about on eBay was going for $50 last time I looked at it, but the seller was very clear that it was locked and he couldn't get past the activation screen, so that's why I was curious about it.

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    The only way to be sure about a phone you buy on Craigslist is to meet in person at a Verizon store and have the phone activated on your account before handing over the money. Even if the IMEI checks out as clean now, the seller can still report it lost/stolen after selling it to you. It's a common insurance scam and the ONLY way to prevent it is to have it active on your account. At that point the seller has no more control and no ability to report it lost/stolen.

    You can do a preliminary check for Verizon phones here: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/nso/enterDeviceId.do

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catalytic72 View Post
    Hi Anole, can you tell me more about how to use a locked AT&T 4S for ST? I think I found a decent seller on CL, he has a 4S in my price range, but says he was under the impression it wouldn't work with ST if it was locked. (He buys and sells/repairs them a lot, and was explaining why it's hard to find them unlocked (which concurred with what I've read) and said he'd be willing to meet and try to activate it with my ST SIM, but I'd like to know what I need to do before I waste his or my time.

    The phone I was talking about on eBay was going for $50 last time I looked at it, but the seller was very clear that it was locked and he couldn't get past the activation screen, so that's why I was curious about it.
    This looks like the activation lock because the Apple ID password has not been removed. A carrier lock would allow you to activate the telephone using a SIM card from the carrier to which it is locked. Stay away from that iPhone. There is nothing you can do unless the original owner goes to the Apple activation server and removes the telephone's registration.
    Earl F. Parrish

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    Meeting a verizon or sprint customer at official store and activating immediately is the only 100% safe way to buy a phone on craigslist now a days.

    Any tmobile or atat gsm phone can and probably will go blacklist months from now.

    Tmobile phones all go blacklist now because every new phone comes with a payment plan, So if you buy there phone you are attached to there account for the next 2 years hoping they continue to pay there bill.

    Atat is exactly the same but they call it a contract and if the original owner sells phone and stops paying bill 1 2 3 months from now they will blacklist the phone you are using.

    So atat/tmobile phones are completely unsafe to buy on craigslist EVEN if you meet customer at store.

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    Just an update

    Bought the 4S (locked, AT&T) from the guy on Craigslist. Didn't take my SIM with me, but did have him show me that it wasn't locked to an Apple ID. Did a factory reset on it as well.

    From the time I put the SIM in and started setting up the phone/activating via the STBYOP website, followed their directions for APN settings, did a test call, sent my son a text with a pic, had him send me a text with a pic (he's on T-Mobile, I think)....took about 2 minutes total for everything to be working perfectly. Was expecting some headaches with setup, and was more than a bit nervous about buying a used one off CL, despite being pretty confident it was a legit seller/repairer, and I couldn't have been more surprised when everything worked so fast. The ST website said it could take up to 24 hours for the MMS to start working, but by the time I read it, my son had already sent me a pic.

    I appreciate everyone's help! I'm sure I'll be around this forum a lot while I learn how to use it.

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    I'm a little late to the party.
    Congrats on getting your phone on line.
    .
    There are (at least) two kinds of "locked".
    .
    Carriers lock the phone so it can only use their sim.
    In the US, that includes their MVNOs.
    Not sure that works the same in Canada.
    There are variations: Verizon locks their sim slot to NOT work with either American carrier, but will work with a foreign one when you go abroad.
    .
    Then there is the user password lock to prevent me from using your phone if I steal it.
    .
    This last one I'm a little unsure of...
    For iPhones, since iOS 7, a phone can be locked by the user to their Apple account.
    Once that's done, nothing I do to your phone will make it work.
    You must release the phone from your account.
    That requires your Apple password.
    (If I wasn't clear/correct on this last lock, I'm certain as someone will provide correction)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anole View Post
    This last one I'm a little unsure of...
    For iPhones, since iOS 7, a phone can be locked by the user to their Apple account.
    Once that's done, nothing I do to your phone will make it work.
    You must release the phone from your account.
    That requires your Apple password.
    (If I wasn't clear/correct on this last lock, I'm certain as someone will provide correction)
    Can't remember if it's limited to iOS 7 or not, but if you have iCloud active with Find My iPhone on for an iPhone, you cannot do a full restore on that phone.

    When I wanted to transfer my (carrier-locked) iPhone 4 from my wife to my mother-in-law, I had to access the phone first, go to the iCloud settings, and turn off Find My iPhone. However, in order to do that, I had to type my wife's AppleID in first. Without doing that, I couldn't restore the phone to factory settings.


    $44.83: $56 Smart Plan (2012-12) 2 GB + unlimited voice Canada-wide and SMS/MMS, VVM Plus - $10-28 credit
    $34.00: $39 Smart Plan (2013-04) 400 MB + 450 anytime Canada-wide, unlim eve/we, SMS, MMS - $5 credit + 50 min bonus (total 500)

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    Should we release our lost iPhone from the the Apple activation server?
    Will releasing our lost iPhone from the the Apple activation server solve this problem?
    How do we release a lost iPhone from the the Apple activation server?
    What would you do?

    We lost our iPhone several months ago, We reported it lost, terminated the line at the carrier (Verizon), and have since purchased a new iPhone.

    I have received a call from someone who has apparently (reportedly) purchased this list iPhone for $350 on Craigslist, perhaps not realizing that he was purchasing an iPhone from someone who was not the original owner.

    He is now asking for our help so that he can use this iPhone.
    I presume that Verizon (and/or Apple) reported the iPhone as lost. In this event, does the iPhone get locked or killed?

    We have moved on, and so have no hope of any recompense for the iPhone. the most I can expect to do at this point is help someone else not get ripped off for $350, perhaps unwittingly.

    There is apparently still some of our personal information on the iPhone.(Which is how this fellow reached out to me).

    What can I do? What should I do?

    THX in advance.
    Loyal T-Mobile customer since 2007

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    In my opinion he should be reported as having stolen property in his possession- your stolen property and you should be able to recover it. He should just lose whatever he paid for it. Maybe this will stop people from buying stolen property. He took the risk, and should take the loss. And you should get your phone back.

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    sashusmom, I understand your feelings. This is, to be honest, a complicated situation.

    My daughter and I cannot be sure that the iphone was "stolen" from her; the phone may very well have been left behind in a taxi. (They reported no phone found left in any cab.) Impossible to know whether the person contacting us is another innocent victim (altho purchasing a phone off of Craigslist is not smart, given the obvious risks and unknowns). Fact is, however, that if this contact could have reached out to us, presumably anyone else who found the phone could also have done the right thing and reached out to us, and attempted to make us whole.

    Interestingly, the contact chose to not respond to my request to provide the Craigslist post ID for the ad that he responded to, or how they were able to gain access to the phone to find our home telephone number. They were willing to talk on the phone with us, and reported they were willing to provide some "compensation". Nothing further to be gained, given that I cannot determine whether they too are unwitting victims or whether they had the opportunity to do the right thing and chose not to. We are out several hundred dollars. Nothing to be gained by making someone else also lose several hundred dollars if they are unwitting participants in gaining access to this iPhone.

    Only compensation I have asked for is that they wipe any residual personal information from the phone. On the upside, we know where our lost iPhone has apparently ended up and the phone is at least in the apparent hands of someone with some conscience. So perhaps no personal information will be misused. Time to move on.

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    I would not aid the thief in using MY property.

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    Bluelaser, can you do a remote wipe? Or is it an older model of iphone? And I am with Anole. I would not make it easy for anyone to use stolen property. Or left behind property. It was still dishonest to sell it, and anyone who buys on craigslist leaves him/herself open to this kind of repercussions since you are trusting the seller. This person had great big ones to call you with your stolen property and ask you to let him use it since he paid for it!!!! If you won't get the cops involved, let him figure it out. Unless you are trading a working phone for your identity wipe on the phone. But how can you be sure they will wipe it?

    If they went and restored as a new iphone on their computer, then I believe it is already wiped and just looking for the password to activate it since it is associated with your itunes account and password. If you give him your password then he will have access to your itunes account. That's not good either. Good Luck!

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