Whether a victim or not, you’ve probably been involved in an iPhone scam at one point or another. Here are the five biggest iPhone scams to avoid.
There are people out there willing to make some money the easy way, and that sometimes involves scamming people into giving them their money with nothing or at least very little in return. And since the iPhone is such a popular device amongst a broad spectrum of users, it’s a great target that scammers can use as bait.
One scam, for instance, involved the scammer paying homeless people and other folks who needed quick cash to go into an Apple Store and buy an iPhone on-contract, but then give the phone to the scammer in exchange for a couple hundred dollars. The only thing is that these victims now have a phone contract they need to pay or else they risk damaging their credit.
That’s one of the more extravagant iPhone scams to date, and it’s likely that many people wouldn’t fall for it, which is why the scammer targeted a small niche of people.
However, there are still a ton of other iPhone scams going on, and some of them are easy to fall for. Here are the five biggest iPhone scams that you’ll want to be aware of and avoid going forward.
“Brand New” iPhones
The Scam: A seller on Craigslist will sell a “brand new” iPhone, but on the inside is just random dead weight, usually some rocks or even a mirror that looks like an iPhone, which is what happened once before with an iPad scam.
Usually this “brand new” iPhone won’t be shrink-wrapped, which can be a giveaway that the device actually isn’t brand new, but it’s possible that a scammer could have a shrink wrapper to make it look like it was never opened.
Doing this will usually set the buyer’s mind at ease, knowing that the seller has the original box and everything, but you can never be too sure.
How to Avoid: Make sure to open the box and see that there is an actual iPhone inside and that it’s a real one that works. This should go without saying when buying anything, but some people still fail to do this.
Fake iPhones from China
The Scam: Scammers will sell cheap smartphones that look like iPhones and sell them for way more than what the actual smartphone is actually worth.
These are usually cheaply-made phones made in China that have an interface very similar to iOS, but upon closer inspection you can tell that it isn’t a true iPhone, but instead a really cheap phone that might not even fully work.
How to Avoid: Make sure to look over the iPhone that you’re buying and test out the interface. Look for small clues that hint to the possibility that it might not be an iPhone, such as writing on the back of the iPhone and whether or not it has the Apple logo or iPhone trademark.
Stolen iPhones for Sale
The Scam: Thieves steal an iPhone from someone and then sell it on Craigslist for a few hundred dollars.
This is perhaps the most popular scam of them all. Many stolen iPhones will end up on Craigslist so that the thieves can turn around and sell the stolen device to someone else. Many buyers may not even realize they’re buying a stolen iPhone. However, they soon realize they’re locked out of it because they need the password to the rightful owner’s Apple ID account.
How to Avoid: There are several ways to see if an iPhone has been stolen or not and we go into detail about the different ways. The best way is to use Apple’s new Activation Lock lookup tool and entering in the serial number for the iPhone to see if it’s still associated with an Apple ID account. If so, it’s probably stolen.
The Scam: If you’re selling an iPhone, a buyer will contact you offering more money than what you’re asking because they seem desperate to buy one at last minute. However, they’ll send you a bigger amount in the form of a check and ask that you send the remaining amount back to them.
The only thing is, that check will eventually bounce since it’s fake money and you’ll be the one responsible.
How to Avoid: This one’s pretty easy to avoid because it really doesn’t make any sense, but people still fall for it anyway, or else scammers wouldn’t be doing it anymore. If you’re selling on Craigslist and are offered more money than what you’re asking, there’s a big chance that it’s too good to be true.
Paying for a Jailbreak
The Scam: An online service will jailbreak your iPhone for a fee, usually $30-$50. While the operation could be legit, you can do it yourself quickly and easily for free.
However, there have been some jailbreak scams in the past where the service will claim it can jailbreak your iPhone for free, but in the middle of the process you’ll be asked to complete an affiliate offering.
How to Avoid: It’s pretty simple. Only go to the jailbreak dev team’s official website to download the jailbreak tool and do it yourself for free without any caveats. The latest jailbreak works for iOS 8.4.0 and it’s from TaiG.