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raiderak's profile

New Member

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7 Messages

Monday, November 28th, 2022 7:02 PM

phone purchased three months ago on eBay was recently marked as "stolen" / blacklisted IMEI

Hello AT&T Wirless Community,

  While out of town this week for Thanksgiving my I-phone stopped working.  Upon calling AT&T i was informed that the phone had been locked and that they would unlock it for me.  I asked them why it had been locked and they put me on hold for about 15 minutes to investigate.  They came back and told me it had been reported stolen and that it would likely lock again [which it did 30 minutes later].  I purcahsed this iphone (12 pro) just a bit over three months ago used on ebay from a reputable seller with thousands of positive ratings.  I checked the IMEI when i bought it, had no issue installing my own SIM and setting it up to my number. 

     Having the phone locked after three months makes me feel like this is either a scam being run by someone selling their phone to a secondary seller who then turns it around and sells it online to another party. Maybe they continue to amke payments on the phone for another month or two and then report it stolen to receive a repalcement.  Another possibility is that AT&T is negligent in updating its database of blasklisted IMEI's.

     I have been unsuccessful thus far in speaking with someone at AT&T who is on a supervisory level who can address my exact issue (I will).  I have thus far received  the boiler plate, "if its not stolen, have the person who sold it to you contact us to clear the IMEI".  This is not possible if you purchased it from a  third party over three months ago.  It seems like there should be a solution for this or a practice in place so scammers can't take advantage of this.  I'm sure I'm not the first to be in this situation.

The entire secondary market for phones would seem unstable if this type of issue can't be addressed.  I am a longtime AT&T custiomer and i'm surprised how difficult it has been to ahve this issue addressed by a informed agent who can assist me.

Accepted Solution

Official Solution

dwill05

ACE - Master

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7.5K Messages

2 months ago

It’s actually a pretty common scam perpetrated on people buying used iPhones from eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, etc., anywhere it’s easy for someone to sell a phone anonymously and then run away and hide so you can’t get your money back from them.  It’s one of the dangers of buying a second hand phone.  AT&T isn’t going to do anything.  They don’t have any dealing or responsibilities for phones sold through third parties.  If someone buys a phone from someone else, and the seller later reports the phone lost or stolen, and it gets blacklisted, then that’s an issue between the buyer and the seller.  AT&T won’t unlock a blacklisted phone.

As far as the secondary market being unstable, this type of fraud has been going on for many, many years, and has had little impact on the used phone market as there are always people out there willing to buy used phones from people they don’t know.

New Member

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7 Messages

2 months ago

Thank you for taking time to read my concern and respond.  I appreciate that the answer you have given is likely based upon your observations over time on these boards and is likely the usual outcome you have seen. 

I am very surprised if this is indeed AT&T's policy/protocol in these situations.  While there is always a "buyer beware" issue with any type of second hand purchase, one of those issues shouldn't be a phone being filed as stolen months after the fact.  When I activate the phone with a new number, sim card, etc, it would seem that a flag should go up at that time, if warranted.  It is reasonable that someone who owns their phone outright should be able to sell it and reasonable that another party should be able to buy it and have some ability to check its status at the time of purchase.  Having an item as expensive as a cell phone [and ceratinly an i-Phone] only be "safe" to purchase new from the vendor (apple) or the carrier (in this case AT&T) feels wrong to me.

I'd appreciate any other insight you might have here or anyone else who might see this.  I will tell you that I will be filing a police report (for what its worth) as i investigate additonal steps.  Thank you again for taking the time to read and respond.       

GLIMMERMAN76

ACE - Expert

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23.5K Messages

2 months ago

The carriers only care about the original owner.  They always have and always will.  The used phone market is a mine field.  I used to resell phones all the time I no longer do it because of these types of problems.  

dwill05

ACE - Master

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7.5K Messages

2 months ago

@raiderak   The phone likely wasn’t blacklisted when you bought it or activated it.  Any check made when you bought it or activated it would have come back clean.  There are plenty of free online IMEI checkers that will tell you if a phone is blacklisted.  The way these scams work is that they wait a few months after selling to report the phone stolen, so that they are past the return/refund policy, and have more time to disappear.  Sure, people should be honest, but that’s the world we live in.

This “hands off” policy is AT&T policy, and I’m sure it’s the same at other carriers too.  They aren’t going to get involved in a private transaction between two parties.  That’s what courts and law enforcement are for, not the business of a cell phone company.  Only people who reported the blacklisted can get the phone removed from the blacklist.  If anyone could call and tell a story about that they were swindled, fraud would be even worse than it is now.

New Member

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7 Messages

2 months ago

@dwill05 thank you again for taking time to reply.  if it is indeed a "hand off" policy with no recourse, i'm surprised. 

when a phone is wiped clean (by a seller/vendor, changes SIM cards, phone numbers, and becomes associated with a new account [especially for a period of a few months] there should be a reasonable expectation of recourse in the event the phone subsequently becomes flagged, don't you think?  not investigating a legitimate complaint and based upon a untraceable claim of theft is not "hands off", its borderline negligent.  providing receipts of purcahse [with credit card verification], a timeline of activation, and account payment is more than "calling and telling a story of how they were swindled".

 also as @GLIMMERMAN76 noted, he/she no longer sell used phones as it essentially became unsustainable becuase AT&T makes no effort to substantiate claims of theft.  that feels like the secondary market being somehwat unstable.

does anyone from AT&T monitor these forums?  i'd really appreciate a formal response that I can see in writing is their policy for my case.

thank you again for taking time to read this and respond.  i appreciate it.

ACE - Sage

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104.3K Messages

2 months ago

No carrier can help if blacklisted.  

PayPal dispute allows you to go back 6 months.  No idea how far back eBay goes.  It's likely you're reputable seller has closed up shop and is no longer selling anything on eBay.  But his PayPal may still be accessed.

Good luck. 

New Member

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7 Messages

2 months ago

@formerlyknownas who puts a mobile device on a blacklist?  i thought it was the mobile carrier (in which case i'd also assume they could remove it).  thank you for the info.     

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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19.7K Messages

2 months ago

The original carrier will blacklist it once the information on the phone makes it thru the system. As pointed out above, the seller could have waited a couple of months and then reported it as stolen, or there was an unpaid balance on it that finally made it thru the system after a couple of billing cycles. Once blacklisted, it won't work on any carrier. Only the original, registered owner can correct the blacklisting issue with the carrier.

dwill05

ACE - Master

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7.5K Messages

2 months ago

The cell phone insurance company (Asurion) can also blacklist phones if someone reports a phone lost or stolen and they get an insurance replacement.  In that case, they technically now own the original phone and blacklist it so it can’t be used.

New Member

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7 Messages

2 months ago

i appreciate everyone responses.  i have a legitimate concern with what many of you have stated is your take on the AT&T policy here.  its also worth noting many of you appear to agree the protocol in these situations is less than ideal and absolutely not customer friendly. 

semi-copied from my comment above: 

when a phone is wiped clean (by a seller/vendor, changes SIM cards, phone numbers, and becomes associated with a new account [especially for a period of a few months] there should be a reasonable expectation of recourse in the event the phone subsequently becomes flagged/blacklisted.  not investigating a legitimate complaint based upon an untraceable claim of theft is not "hands off", it is borderline negligent.  providing receipts of purchase [with credit card verification], a timeline of activation, and account payment is sufficent grounds for a review.

i'd really like an official statement from an agent speaking on behalf of AT&T on this matter.  

thank you all for your time and advice.

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