I got scammed on Facebook Marketplace!

I am trying to live a mustachian lifestyle and instead of buying a new phone, I searched for a second-hand one on the Facebook marketplace. I found an iPhone 7 for CHF120. I contacted the guy and he said he would send it by post. I paid CHF127.- using TWINT. The phone never came and he cannot be contacted again.

This is the guy: Redirecting...

I contacted UBS and they said they cannot do anything even though I have the phone number of the guy. They reported the incident to TWINT.

Moral of the story: Be more careful online!

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… or don’t use Facebook, and never buy second hand phones. There could be much worse happening than losing 127 CHF when you buy a second hand phone, especially if that phone has been used previously for illegal activities.

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…says the guy who also (basically) just wrote “how are tax authorities going to find out that you’re lying to them” :wink: Well, different priorities and perceptions of risk, I guess.

But honestly let’s not overexaggerate theses risks. Second-hand purchases of phones are common. There’s even big companies with brick & mortar stores in Switzerland that specialise in it. A terrorist or serious criminal is unlikely to just sell his phone for a 120 Francs on Facebook via Twint. Worst case, realistically: You buy a stolen phone in good faith - and that’s that.

Honestly, enough warning signs on that profile:

  • going from Munich, Germany to Neuchâtel is unusual
  • when you have a mundane German name
  • and you claim to work for a big brand name “Online Shoping Senter”
  • that purportedly has a Bangladeshi phone number
  • and can’t spell shopping center correctly
  • and all of your Facebook friends are from Asia, the Middle East, Latin America or Africa
  • but none of them are from Germany or Switzerland
  • nor does any of them have a German or French name

Not even 5 minutes of DD, to make it a non-buy.

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Use ricardo, verkaufen or revendo next time.

There are much more expensive lessons to learn though.

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…or Facebook marketplace.

But locally, meeting people in person.

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Very simple, every phone has a unique identification number and it registers together with that number and the SIM to every antenna. So it’s visible for the network carrier. So if from a certain number there was illegal activity, they can see what phone has been used, if they suddenly see the same phone with another SIM card register to the network and it’s on your name, they might know at your door.

Depending on the activity that has been performed with that phone before, it can be a friendly knock or it can be in the form of a dawn raid at 6 in the morning where 20 heavily armed police officers will search your house and every neighbour will see it. Not so fun I suppose and if you live in a smaller city or village you will be stigmatised forever even if eventually you got clear.

Buying goods for a cheap price where you must assume that it has been stolen, is a criminal offence by itself. An iPhone 7 on Facebook Marketplace with that profile and that price could fit very well into that category. Warum man kein gestohlenes Smartphone kaufen sollte

Buying a cheap second hand smartphone is not worth the troubles (dawn raid, etc. investigations, stigma as a criminal in your village, etc.) even if you get out clear. Secondly, you risk ending up with a criminal record and for some people this is a very devastating outcome. Some people need to send criminal record excerpts to their employers on a regular basis and also to get a new job. Not possible anymore with such an entry.

If someone reports a stolen phone and has the unique identification number of the phone they can easily find out who is using the phone now. You might need to give it back and then you also lost the money. You will have to explain from where you have it. And if you bought it for too cheap at a shady place, then troubles are not far.

Whatever, to each his own.

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This is Switzerland. They’re not blindly going to bust your house without any additional evidence linking you to illegal activity. It’s been well-known that used phones can and do get sold. Neither will you end up with a criminal record for it.

It’s a seven-year old model that is going to lose support of the most recent OS a few weeks (with the upcoming iOS 16). 120 CHF is a totally reasonable price.

“Someone” can’t. Probably everyone who has had a phone stolen can attest that. Carriers aren’t bothering about it and neither does Apple. Authorities probably will try to localise user of a particular phone in cases of high-profile terrorism or organised crime. But not just randomly for a random stolen phone.

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Or if you file a criminal complaint directly with the public prosecutor’s office rather than with the police. Most people just report a stolen phone to the police for insurance purposes, and the police always will turn you away if nobody died so yes, with the police there is not much chance. But the public prosecutor’s office can’t just turn down your complaint and they have to formally answer it. For them it’s one letter to send to Swisscom etc. and they know who the current user of the phone is, Swisscom etc. are obliged to comply with such requests. If then the public prosecutor’s office issues a search warrant or has the police to investigate/interrogate, the police has to comply too. So, not so unrealistic.

Anyway, if you can’t afford an iPhone or if you’re not willing to shell out the money it costs, then just buy a cheap Chinese Android phone for that budget. Maybe pay 100 more and you get a brand new one which is quite up to date. Using an outdated phone that doesn’t get anymore updates is another blunder in itself. That’s then those people who complain that their stuff got hacked and all money has been transferred away from their bank account to some strange numbered account in Panama.

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What interests me is how a guy not living in Switzerland got TWINT. Might be an organized band. So I think it’s worth to go and report to the police.

And yes, I would only buy something from Facebook marketplace if I would arrange a personal meeting.

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Twint can also be setup using a credit card afaik

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„Jede Überwachung muss sowohl vom Dienst Überwachung Post- und Fernmeldeverkehr (ÜPF) des Eidgenössischen Justiz- und Polizeidepartements als auch einem Zwangsmassnahmengericht genehmigt werden“

Staatliche Überprüfung: Wie die Handydaten zum Täter führen können - 20 Minuten

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Here you can buy the iphone 7 for 99 CHF – legit online shop (use them since more then 10 years)!

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You should not rely on 20min on such things, the wording is vague and inaccurate. This applies to surveillance activities but handing over the name of the owner of a phone is very simple thing and I know this from first hand experience because once an idiot did it to get my name and address so he can send me a bill for money that I didn’t owe him. It is so easy that you can basically get everyone’s identity just by pressing false charges without any evidence at all and once you have the info, you withdraw the complaint. It’s grey zone for them but still, easily possible to do.

Yes, but still it’s not wise to use an outdated phone if you don’t want your pixx on the internet and your bank account emptied.

Years ago I bought a new Nokia on Polish Allegro, a site like Ricardo. It was also a scammer, I lost 200 CHF. I reported it to the police, but they did nothing. I had the guy’s name, phone number, address. They just didn’t care to chase him.

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For paying, yes, but for receiving money I think it should be a bank account.

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Forgot about your money and next time be more diligent.

I once purchased a Omega Moonwatch for CHF 3k over tutti. He provided his ID, additional pictures finally offered me to pick it up locally at his address. His German was excellent nota bene. Bottom line the money was gone and there was nothing the police could do about referring to organized scammers from Asia or Eastern Europe making use of stolen IDs and bank accounts.

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My father bought a phone on tutti he never got, after 1 month or so, the cops had him. Tutti is obliged to provide IP and register information about the acc.

I also always offer to pay by Twint, because of stuff like this. Online money can be taken back and leads to a suable person.

you can set up a prepaid twint :wink:

I use classifieds too, but only buy or sell in person and pay cash. If distance makes this impossible, I do bank transfers, as that way I get their full name, address, and bank.

If you have the crook’s phone number, you can press charges. The process will just take longer because the name attached to the number must be obtained from the telecom company.

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I buy and sell a lot on Anibis, Ricardo and Tutti. I almost never had any issue in 15 years or more. When I had one, it was just small issues or misunderstanding that can be solve with the seller/buyer at worst with a refund. However I never used Facebook Marketplace as I don’t have Facebook. My wife did from time to time and said that many seller and buyer were rude, not replying, or ads were strange or poorly written. I guess it’s the platform popularity, or the fact that Facebook users are mostly using it from phone and doesn’t care to write properly, with details, as it’s more painful to do so from a phone.

You just have to use common sense, if the ads its written well or not. If the price/offer is too good to be true. How is the communication with the seller, is he coherent or not, does it have excuse not to allow in person exchange or avoid answer question? When one or more red flag rise, forget about it. And even if everything looks ok, when the amount is more than you can afford to loose, try to do only in person exchange or use second hand shops like Cash’n’Go, CashConverters (I did some not so bad deal there, even if it’s mostly over priced), you can also check Broki or similar.
I bought almost 4 year ago a phone second hand that I’m still using today, very happy with it. We meet at the train station, I tested the phone quickly. Paid. Then I did a full reset and install a different OS (LineageOS, I bought this model especially because it was compatible with this special privacy friendly Android custom OS).

I bought as well 3 tablets second hands (I don’t use 3, just one got the first stolen, the second smashed by an object that fall on it). For these I paid each time in advance and get delivered, each time in perfect conditions, almost like new, just one was a bit dirty but I could clean up like new with a special product for screen. They all worked perfectly, so much money saved.

Another funny, purchase I made from an online ads, was a graphic card, a long time ago when it was not on shortage like now. The guy show up at my work place as he was close by, and we trade on the street from his trunk. He was an independent mounting PC for his customer and got the wrong card for one and had to paid to return it. It was new and he made a receipt for it from his company. It worked for 6 years then I sold it on Ricardo for a quarter for the original price I bought it.

So it’s a matter of common sense, communication, trust and a bit of luck I guess.

If I might, little ads for my blog, I wrote an article about selling stuff online in Switzerland: I made 1000CHF by selling secondhand stuff – ELUC
I should maybe write one about buying as well.

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