Scammers Are Gluing Together Frankenstein iPhones Out Of Old Broken Parts Then Selling Them As New

Scammers Are Gluing Together Frankenstein iPhones Out Of Old Broken Parts Then Selling Them As New

iFixit isn't the culprit, but some crooks are taking the guts of old iPhones and making new, Frankenstein iPhones out of them.

“Unopened! Still sealed in original retail box!” cry the Craigslist ads advertising “new” iPhones and iPads at lower-than-retail prices, but the truth is far more insidious: many of the “new” iPhones you see on Craigslist and eBay are actually old, used iPhones repackaged and sold as new using the hardware equivalent of meat glue.

Over at How To Arena, they’ve put together a fantastic look at how old, busted iPhones are purchased for dirt cheap prices and then fixed and sold as new for much, much higher prices.

It’s actually pretty easy. Most “broken” iPhones work just fine, just need a couple new parts and some spit and shine. Basically, what occurs is that the guts of an old iPhone are put inside a cosmetically new body, with an unblemished touchscreen, back panel and band.

Packaging is a little trickier. At best, this recombobulated iPhone will be packed in original Apple retail packaging — used, discarded or procured on the black market — or else counterfeit packaging from a local printer. It will then be wrapped in plastic and shipped off to various local and international markets.

The scam here is that while people buying these iPhones think they’ve just gotten a good deal, what they’ve really gotten is an out-of-warranty iPhone that often can’t run on their local networks. They’re out hundreds of dollars, and often try to recoup these losses by selling the iPhone on eBay or Craigslist, repeating the cycle. Yeesh.

How can you avoid getting stuck with one of these rebuilt iPhones? First, you really shouldn’t ever buy a new iPhone directly from anyone besides Apple and its carrier partners. Look at sale prices on “new” and “like new” iPhones with distrust. If you do happen to decide to take a chance on one, only buy one from someone locally, and make sure to check that the iPhone isn’t activated and that the IMEI number on the device matches the one printed on the box.

  • Flyphoenix

    I have always been really cautious with the though of buying from EBay or Craiglist and this is exactly why I won’t buy from them.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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