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Legal Phone Theft

18 replies 602 views
sisusisusisusisu Forumite
2 posts
MoneySaving Newbie
Hi, new to the forum so not sure this is the correct forum but I wanted to highlight an experience that happened to me and my partner as it's extremely frustrating as there is no help available or any where to turn to for help, the phone network, the police, the omsbudman, local mp all turn a blind eye to this scam allowing people to commit legal theft and fraud, which I thought were both illegal, but apparently not any more?

I am highlighting an appalling, shambolic situation which I cannot understand why in this day and age that this situation even exists as all it does is give criminals the 100% rights to access new modern smart phones, con people out of lots of money and bemusingly the network/phone operators and police are completely okay with this happening and are not bothered about it at all, they know it exists yet choose to turn a blind eye to it and, as usual, leave the innocent victims left out of pocket and hard done by, and in my case, by the police, even told it's my own fault?

A few months ago I bought my fiancee a used new Samsung S10 phone off Facebook marketplace for £350, I knew the phone was locked to O2, so I had it unlocked, gave it to my fiancee and all was great, then after about 2 weeks of perfect and normal service and useage my partner couldn't all of a sudden make or receive any calls or texts, we later found out this was due to the 'original owner'? reporting the phone as lost or stolen? And O2 therefore blocking the phone. I knew this as I phoned O2 to ask what was happening, they refused to say whether is was either lost or stolen just either 'lost or stolen', they refused to unblock the phone and they advised me to take the phone and the matter to my local police station. 

So, I took the phone into Torquay police station, reported it as 'lost or stolen' told them what O2 had said, they took the phone off me, took a statement, I gave them printed off screenshots of my conversation on facebook with the seller, and they said they would be in touch, they also said not to get my hopes up as apparently it was my job to contact the seller? Obviously I already had and of course they had disappeared off facebook and so I could not contact them as I didn't know his address, all of his information of course is available with O2 as it was a contract phone hence I said I knew it was on O2 and got it unlocked. The next day I received a call off the police to go and pick the phone back up? So I did, the police told me they couldn't find him lol, and there was nothing more they could do, the phone was according to them, my property, they also said I shouldn't go buying phones off Facebook marketplace which was , as I took it, them saying it was my fault?

So now I'm left with a phone that cost me £350 to buy plus about £50 I spent on getting it unlocked and buying a case and screen protector for it, but now my fiancee cannot use it because it's been blocked by O2, and nobody is willing or even bothered to do anything about it? I took the matter up with the Omnbudsman service, as soon as O2 mentioned 'data protection' the Omnbudsman service got scared and didn't want to take it further? O2 flatly refuse to unblock it or refund any money, the police blame me and want me to find the seller? The law simply doesn't want to do anything so I have to ask what the hell are my rights? Where are my rights? Why is someone out there getting phones on contract, selling them on then reporting them as 'lost or stolen' and still walking around freely with no one willing to tackle them or the situation whilst innocent people like me are left out of pocket and with absoluetly nowhere to turn? 

Apparently the phone I have is 'lost or stolen'? So why do I have it in my possession? I've took the reported phone to the police and I've phoned up the network whose phone it belongs to and told them I have it, and took it up with the Omnbudsman service, they all know, yet I still have the phone, a phone that cannot be used? So whose phone is it? Because the police clearly say it's mine, so if it's legally my phone what right do O2 have to refuse to unblock it? Surely they are breaking the law? Or the law is breaking the law? Because I have a phone that I have paid for (I am ill and on ESA and so is my partner by the way so we can ill afford this) and it's unusable, and no one is willing to do anything about it?

If the phone has been reported as 'lost or stolen' to O2 then O2 have the name and address of the original owner, if the phone is lost, then it now isn't lost so why does no one want it back? If the phone is stolen then why hasn't anyone been arrested for either theft or fraud? And again, why does no one want it back? I always thought theft and fraud was against the law? Obviously it isn't!  O2 keep hiding behind 'data protection' but whose exactly? Why is that stopping them from unblocking the phone? The person that sold me the phone is clearly either the original owner and comitting fraud or he stole the phone off someone (or he happened to find a new phone boxed with it's charger and accessories lol), if the phone had never been found then I fully understand O2 not wanting to unblock it, but I just cannot fathom what rights they have to now not unblock 'my' phone?

This whole situation is a complete farce, it makes a joke out of so called data protection and peoples rights and the so called law. 


  • JJ_EganJJ_Egan Forumite
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    Cannot be both legal and fraud/ theft .
    But post is far to long and rambling to read .

  • alanwsgalanwsg Forumite
    636 posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts
    TL;DR - and the title is an oxymoron.
  • frederick1950frederick1950 Forumite
    71 posts
    10 Posts
    Its a case of buyer beware.....
    You took the risk to buy a used phone from  basically someone you didnt know and who didnt have business premises and youve paid the price of your foolishness.
     You cant expect the police to waste their  time on something so trivial and basically self inflicted.
    Dont  act like a drama queen , man up , learn from it and move on.u

  • edited 12 July 2020 at 11:52AM
    Jon_01Jon_01 Forumite
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    edited 12 July 2020 at 11:52AM
    It's not ' legally my phone'.  It's stolen property.  The original owner has sold it and then reported it lost/stolen (doesn't matter which). At that point the network will blacklist it.  The owner has committed fraud as they had no legal right to claim a new phone after they sold it (the odds are they have also sold the new phone that O2 will have sent them and have no intent to every pay their monthly bill).
    At this point you can only pursue a claim against the person you bought the phone from, they are the only party that are at fault.
  • giraffe69giraffe69 Forumite
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    Well, the person who sold the phone and then reported it stolen or lost is a cad and a bounder and it would be nice to see him/her caught and punished but this doesn't happen if you buy the phone from a reputable source. It is the attempt to save a buck or two and then getting caught out using an inherently unsafe method that is sad and IMO not deserving of much sympathy.
  • edited 12 July 2020 at 1:01PM
    moleratmolerat Forumite
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    edited 12 July 2020 at 1:01PM
    The seller has likely seen £ signs and claimed on their insurance as well not realising or caring that the insurer will contact the network and get it blocked or claimed that their new phone didn't arrive in which case it will cost the network more than the trade cost of the phone to bother trying to find it when the press of a button can sort the problem. 
  • stragglebodstragglebod Forumite
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    Bit harsh on the OP here, they've been gullible but I don't see why that should stop them from being deserving of sympathy, or be an excuse to tell them to 'man up'. A phrase, I might add, used exclusively by absolute tools.
    Unfortunately for the OP your only redress is to issue proceedings against the person who sold you the phone, but since you didn't find out their identify you're pretty much stuffed.
  • PHKPHK Forumite
    261 posts
    Third Anniversary 100 Posts
    Bit harsh on the OP here, they've been gullible but I don't see why that should stop them from being deserving of sympathy, or be an excuse to tell them to 'man up'. A phrase, I might add, used exclusively by absolute tools.
    Unfortunately for the OP your only redress is to issue proceedings against the person who sold you the phone, but since you didn't find out their identify you're pretty much stuffed.
    I would say it’s slightly more than gullible. They didn’t take any precautions. They could also have asked the seller for something with their address on and then meet them at that address. They could have bought from a reputable business. They could have checked the IMEI using a service like Checkmend

    Also, when it went wrong they argued with the “professional” or experienced advice. Including trying to cajole O2 to break data protection legislation. (Also assuming that the previous owner was the person that sold the phone)

    I am sympathetic as that is a lot of money, but I would be smarter if I was parting with that. Could have got an unlocked sim free phone from a reputable source for not much more. 

    As to what to do now, the only option is to pursue the seller, but without positive address and ID there isn’t much hope. 
  • Blackbeard_of_PerranporthBlackbeard_of_Perranporth Forumite
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    OP Bought a trinket Samsung S10 on the [email protected] Market place. It was a bargain.

    Unfortunately, the said trinket was hot, and soon blocked.

    Never mind. Moral of this tale. If the price is too good to be true, it is not a bargain!

    How many posts about the FarceBuck Market place have we suffered recently!
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  • Barny1979Barny1979 Forumite
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