North Vancouver RCMP is warning the public about a recent trend where phony smart phones are being sold to unsuspecting buyers.
Victims connect online with someone who purports to be re-selling a name brand smart phone at below-market price. The seller will have some sort of believable story as to why they are re-selling the phone at a discount rather than returning it themselves. The seller then offers to meet the buyer in a public place, and shows up with the phone as promised.
“These phones are extremely realistic looking,” explains Corporal Alex Bojic, of North Vancouver’s Economic Crime Unit. “They often come vacuum sealed in what appears to be authentic packaging, complete with a bar code from a local business and a matching receipt. If the buyer opens the package, they’ll find the phone comes with all of the components, accessories, and manuals. The phone powers up as normal to a home screen that looks legit. It’s only after the buyer takes the phone home and starts opening individual settings and applications that they’ll realize something is up.”
Another risk is that the customer may be getting a deal because the scammer has pre-loaded the phone with malware, and is planning to steal the buyer’s data.
Since the beginning of 2019, the North Vancouver RCMP have seized at least fifteen counterfeit smart phones.
There are strategies that you can use to protect yourself from online fraud, says Corporal Bojic, but the best strategy when buying a smartphone is to stick with trusted retailers.
Anyone who has been victim of this kind of scam is encouraged to contact their local police.