Is it safe to sell your iPhone on Craigslist?

One Apple redditor finds out the hard way that the convenience of selling an iPhone on Craigslist can sometimes come with a very high price.


Whenever Apple releases a new iPhone, the owners of older iPhones will often opt to sell their devices. Craigslist is one of the most popular ways to sell older iPhones, but you should be careful if you decide to sell your phone that way.

One Apple redditor found out the hard way that you can never be too careful when selling your iPhone to a buyer on Craigslist:

I wanted to create a post to describe the nightmare I just experienced in hopes of deterring anyone from making the same mistakes that I have made.

I sold my iPhone 7 on Craigslist yesterday for $700 cash. A nice girl texted me in the morning and asked to meet me later that day somewhere public to ensure our safety. Her phone number was from my area so I thought everything seemed fine.

Upon meeting with her later that day, she seemed like a nice young woman. She told me that she attended the same college that I did and that she was a Junior. I asked her what she studied, and she thought for a moment and then said that she was studying public health. She looked at the phone to make sure it was as described (mint condition) before counting the cash in front of me on the table. I took the money, and counted it again myself to make sure. Four hundred dollar bills and six fifty dollar bills - $700. The money looked good and had markings in all of the right places. I took her money, shook her hand, and we parted ways.

I went to the bank this morning to deposit the money. The bank teller counted the money and then asked me where I had gotten it. I told him that I had just sold a cell phone on Craigslist yesterday. I was then informed that the cash I had handed him was counterfeit money, and that the money would need to be sent to the Fed. He asked me a couple of questions about the transaction before telling me that my best bet was to talk to the police.

As it would turn out, the phone that texted me the previous day was a phone number generated from an app called “TextPlus” or “Text+”, which can generate phone numbers with an area code of your choosing. The number isn’t traceable and there’s nothing more I can do except to eat this huge loss.

Please be careful when dealing with people on Craiglist, or any similar websites. It’s a sad day when you realize that even dealing with cash isn’t enough of a safeguard against scam artists. Always carry around a counterfeit marker and check every bill because regardless of who you’re dealing with, there’s always the chance that they are trying to really screw you.

More at Reddit

His fellow Apple redditors shared their thoughts about selling iPhones on Craigslist:

Candroi: “I like to do high dollar craigslist deals in the lobby of my bank.”

3600CCH6WRX: “In front of Bank is always the best place to do Craigslist transaction. They have cameras and most bank have security guard just in case thing go south. ”

BrothaCharter: “It’s actually so that you can see/request the buyer to withdraw from the ATM, guaranteeing the cash is legit.”

Makecry: “I do it in the lobby of my local police station. Always works fine. It filters out bad people too.”

tkim91321: “For any big transactions on CL, I like to meet the buyer at their bank.

They can get a certified check on site in front of me. If they don’t want to meet at the bank of their choice, I automatically decline any deals in progress.”

UrsusRagnor: “I work in the financial industry, and I see this all the time. I’m really sorry this happened to you :( It always seems to involve Craigslist too. Little is worse than telling someone their cash is no good… Use this as a lesson though. There are government funded websites out there that teach people about how to spot counterfeits.

TheSpaghetti_Monster: “Just a heads up, most of these fake bills tend to be “washed” smaller bills. They basically bleach them and print over the top. The texture is usually more gritty than “real” money. The bills usually will somewhat pass the counterfeit test, but the mark does not disappear like it should in a few seconds.

Also, always always check for the head inside the bill, that is much harder to fake.”

JGoldz75: “The $100’s were the new style with the blue strip in the middle. It’s a sad day when you can’t even bargain with people in cash without worry of getting scammed. There’s a lesson learned in everything though, so now I know to try and meet CL buyers at my bank! It’s just a shame that the first time I get scammed, it’s with something worth so much money and in such high demand.”

TacoKingBean: “I’m sorry for your loss OP. For others, when doing high dollar sales, always meet at a bank or the Police Station. If for some reason you don’t have a counterfeit marker with you. Scratch the bill’s face with your nail and see if it feels “bumpy” if it does that’s a good sign. You can also place the dollar in the light to see if you see a transparent president’s face on the bottom right corner of the bill. If the a bit of the bill comes off from the scratching, it’s fake.”

More at Reddit

Alternatives to selling your iPhone on Craigslist

I feel for the redditor who got ripped off by trying to sell his iPhone 7 on Craigslist. But it’s important to note that Craigslist is not the only option if you want to sell your iPhone.

Swappa and Gazelle are two sites that are worth considering if you need to sell your iPhone. I have friends that have sold theirs on Swappa and they swear by it.

When I’ve sold iPhones in the past, I’ve actually sold them to friends of mine. Sometimes there’s someone in your life who might like a great deal on an iPhone, and you don’t have to worry about getting ripped off by them.

Of course you also have the option of bringing your older iPhone into your local Apple store to get a credit towards a new one. Or you can opt to do it on Apple’s site and mail it into them. The company has a terrific recycling program that can work very well for some people.

I did just that when I wanted to move from an iPhone 6 Plus to an iPhone 6s Plus. I got a $300 credit from my local Apple store and applied it to the newer phone. Oh sure, I could have probably sold it for a higher price but at that point I just wanted to be rid of my older phone. So the swap at the Apple Store was just too convenient for me to bother with selling my older phone.

Whatever you end up doing with your older iPhone, please be careful. Take whatever appropriate steps are necessary in order to make sure that you don’t get ripped off by anybody.

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