Amazon Accidentally Sold Customer a Stolen iPhone

If you've ever tried to buy a smartphone on Craigslist or eBay, chances are, you've seen a few listings that look pretty suspect. Since the advent of smartphones, a person's cell phone is easily among the most expensive item they carry on a day-to-day basis. The fact that they can easily be sold for several hundred dollars on the likes of Craigslist or Kijiji makes them an attractive target for thieves.

However, while it might be easy to find stolen goods on classifieds sites like Craigslist, one would assume goods purchased from Amazon would be legitimate. Sadly, as one Amazon customer found out over Christmas, even a multinational retailer like Amazon makes mistakes. Ben Dreyfuss, who a social media producer for CNet, yesterday tweeted that Amazon had sold him a stolen iPhone to give to his mother for Christmas. Further tweets revealed that Ben had purchased the phone as a refurb through Amazon's Warehouse Deals.

Dreyfuss says he called Verizon to activate the phone and the device and was informed that the the phone was stolen. "When we called to activate it I read the MEI number and they said it was stolen. Amazon says there’s nothing to do but return it," he told one of his Twitter followers.

Though Amazon was apparently very apologetic, it seems everyone involved was very surprised that this even happened (Dreyfuss says even the Verizon employee he spoke to asked him if he was sure he didn't buy it on eBay). Indeed, it's surprising to learn that Amazon's refurb process apparently doesn't include checking to see whether the device has been stolen, even if this kind of situation is rare.

Amazon hasn't yet commented on the incident, but we'll let you know if the company releases a statement.

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Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.