Apple Watch scammers turn trash into cash


If you've seen these two guys who may be scamming stores, there could be a reward in it for you.
Photo: Encinitas Sheriff's Department/Jim Merithew

We fully support efforts to reuse and recycle garbage, but two Apple Watch scammers are using their conservation powers for evil.

The Encinitas, California sheriff’s department is on the lookout for these men (pictured above), who have worked out an effective and completely infuriating way to convert a water bottle and a few paper towels into hundreds of dollars. And authorities are offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to their arrest.

Apple goods are common targets for criminals, especially in exchange deals, due to their high retail value. We still remember the guy who made over $40,000 exchanging broken phones for refurbished ones, which he then sold. We also had the case of the kids in Detroit who were selling iPhone boxes filled with Play-Doh. Or the wonderful human being who was sold bags of sugar that he claimed were brand-new iPhones.

Those last two were easy enough to catch; don’t buy expensive things from people you just met on the street. But this new set of crimes is a bit more insidious.

The scam involves returning an “unopened” Apple Watch to a store in exchange for cash. But what employees don’t know is that the box has, in fact, been opened, stuffed with the aforementioned trash items for weight, and re-shrinkwrapped. So the next person to buy that package gets some refuse while the criminals walk off with some Apple Watch money.

Apple Watches aren’t cheap; investigators say that the thieves have made over $5,200 with this scam. And that’s like 20 Sport models.

We don’t know why stores are offering cash, since the thieves probably don’t have receipts to offer. Although we suppose it’s possible that they’re buying Apple Watches legitimately, selling them, and then keeping the box to return for a full refund later. It would be incredibly smart if it weren’t so horrible, dishonest, and lazy.

Oh, and illegal. It’s completely illegal.

Authorities are having difficulty catching the perpetrators because they keep moving around. They’ve run the scam in 10 different cities in California and Nevada, so odds are they aren’t hitting the same stores twice. Understandably, we suppose.

Anyone with information that can identify these two can contact Sgt. Rich Eaton at (760) 966-3500. You can also make an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.