May 08, 2017 | Posted in:

Be Cautious in Reselling Used Electronic Devices

If there’s one thing that pops up more often than new scams and fraud schemes…

…it’s newer versions of electronic devices.

When Apple or Samsung releases the next model of their smartphones each year, the market is suddenly full of deals to buy second-hand versions of the current model. Everyone wants the latest gadgets with all the bells whistles, which may cause one not to second-guess selling their suddenly “dated” device.

However, fraudsters are more than willing to take advantage of your opportunity to make a quick buck. Be on the lookout for shady buyers and take the following precautions before you engage in a transaction.

With the burgeoning demand for older smartphones and other electronic gadgets, a classic bait-and-switch scheme has been making the rounds. Here’s how it works: You own an older model cell phone and want to upgrade. New phones are expensive, so you surf the internet hoping to sell your old phone for cash. You discover a company offering significantly higher prices for used phones than the competition. So you get an online quote and ship your device to the address listed on the website.

Sometime after you ship the device, a company representative calls. He says they’ve received your phone, but can’t offer the advertised price. Instead he presents a price that’s significantly lower than the original quote, perhaps pennies on the dollar. When you balk at the revised quote, the conversation quickly devolves into an argument and the representative refuses to back down. The representative offers you a few days to decide. Your follow-up phone calls and emails aren’t returned. The company keeps your phone.

Last fall, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged one such electronics buyback company with deceptive consumer practices. Based on that lawsuit, a federal court issued an order halting the company’s operations and freezing its assets. The firm, Laptop & Desktop Repair, LLC, swindled consumers through various websites, including and But for many victims, the damage had already been done.
Consider the following tips to avoid getting ripped off when disposing of your used electronic gear:

  • Get answers. Before sending your phone to a trade-in site, ask the company about their price revision policies, processing times, and procedures for reselling devices.
  • Sell it yourself. Marketing your old phone on Craigslist or eBay might not provide the simplicity of an online buyback site, but personal sales are often a good way to check out potential buyers and steer clear of scammers.
  • Trade it in. Many manufacturers and retailers will take your old device and offer credit toward a new one.
  • Use big brand retailers. Consumer Reports suggests several trade-in programs offered by electronics retailers and online sellers, including Amazon, Target, and Best Buy. Such businesses care about their brand and have whole departments devoted to consumer issues. Using a company with a long track record may reduce hassles later.

Alloy Silverstein urges clients to take the protection of their sensitive personal data very seriously. Remember, prior to relinquishing your device to a third party, wipe it clean so no personal information remains on it. The FTC offers guidelines for effectively erasing all personal information. Check out


How to spot scams & cons

If it sounds too good…

According to the FBI, there are over 14,000 scam artists at work on any given day. Perhaps the information presented here will help you avoid becoming a victim. If you have questions, please call us. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it may well be a scam.

© MC 2017 | “Fraud Alert” is published monthly to provide useful information about scams and cons. Return to this site every month for helpful suggestions on how to avoid fraud. The information contained in this site is of a general nature and should not be acted upon in your specific situation without further details and/or professional assistance.


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