Man arrested for buying stolen iPhone online in Abu Dhabi

Lawyer, retailers urge second-hand buyers to ask for receipt of purchase

Image Credit: Screenshot
Phoney business: Hundreds of phones are advertised each day on online classified websites. Buyers must excercise extreme caution before buying them

Abu Dhabi: Think twice before buying phones from unknown sources. You could land in jail.

An Asian executive thought he had bagged a great deal when he bought an iPhone through an online classified site. But his joy soon turned into horror when the Abu Dhabi police detained him over the weekend. It turned out that the iPhone was stolen.

The phone was put up for sale on an online classifieds site around May. The man bought it for Dh800 from a colleague who had snapped it up from the website for Dh1,200. No receipt or warranty was given.

Abu Dhabi police traced the executive in Dubai last week. He was detained for two nights before being released on bail on Sunday.

It was not immediately clear what version of iPhone it was. An iPhone 4s 16GB with warranty is advertised for Dh1,550 ($413), an iPhone 5, 16GB retails for Dh2,599 ($693).

An electronics industry executive said residents should be wary of buying second-hand handsets.

Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer of Jacky’s Electronics, said: “There is a Latin phrase, ‘caveat emptor’, which means ‘buyer beware’. As a buyer, you should always be aware of who and what you are buying as it may have serious ramifications going forward.

“If you do buy a smartphone device from a stranger, ask them to insert their SIM card into the phone to check if the phone is working. This will help register their phone onto the network and if you are later questioned by police, you can ask them to check if the phone was previously registered or used.

“At the minimum, keep a record of the seller, whether it be their e-mail address and mobile phone number as this can help authorities track down the concerned individual,” he said.

Trade in second-hand electronics — iPhones in particular — without receipts or warranties are widespread in the UAE, with hundreds of mobile phone products advertised on one UAE-based classifieds site alone.

XPRESS called a number of people who advertised iPhones online on the same site, but many said either they had no receipt and warranty card or had already lost them.

Lawyer Amer Syed Al Marzooqi warned buyers. He cited Article 407 of the UAE Penal Code which states that anyone who buys stolen objects such as a mobile phone knowing that the piece is stolen becomes a partner in the crime. “People should protect themselves and should always ask for a receipt of what he buys ... and avoid buying anything from street sellers.”

Recently, XPRESS ran pictures taken by a smartphone reportedly stolen from Spain showing ‘selfies’ taken by a man with UAE buildings in the background. A German woman who claimed to be the iPhone’s real owner said she found numerous pictures of the man taken by the phone in her personal online inbox.

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Your comment

  • Kashif

    Aug 22, 2013 10:14

    I think it is always risky to buy online. Better to purchase new phones/products through retail shops.

  • Well Wisher

    Aug 22, 2013 9:54

    It is common sense not to buy a smartphone from a street seller on the roads. We are all adults and matured and can understand by the price they offer and the way they offer. But what sounds strange to me is, if a smartphone is advertised on a media and a customer buys it, then how come the buyer is responsible. Will the media who advertised be not responsible? Why cant media take the responsibility of advertising only genuine products like... Seller needs to scan and send the purchase bill to the publishing media before it gets officially published. Those who do not have the bills, can always sell it among his known community. Even for the online scams, real estate fraudery, job scams - Official media is who publishes it, and they need to ensure that the adv. is genuine, and not the poor customer who fall into it... These are just my suggestions and not meant to offend anyone..

  • Z

    Aug 22, 2013 9:46

    I don't understand why you've to jail the person for 2 days before getting the facts on the real cause? He's a victim himself and why should he be penalised for that? He's not the person who distribute or sell stolen goods.

  • Faraz

    Aug 22, 2013 8:49

    Hardly anyone keeps a receipt for phones in this online age. Every purchase should be recorded and saved online. Many iPhones are purchased from outside and sold here. Online scam / fraud is one thing but buying a 'stolen' phone cannot be verified. I honestly believe that there must be Stolen Phone Check on the Phone Online Support. Enter the serial no. and check if it is reported stolen or not. Simple.

  • Unknown

    Aug 22, 2013 8:44

    This is not the right way to arrest someone if they have bought a mobile from any sellers when they found out the mobile or item was stolen. People are easily attracted when the price of the gadgets or items is cheap. They are always looking for a cheap price maybe because they have a low salary. What the authority can do is to investigate these online stores first, before arresting someone after the purchase. They should go to the root of the problem rather to the fruits of the crime. Alright?!

  • Mohd. Manzoor

    Aug 22, 2013 8:40

    Some online buying selling site is good opportunities for them to sell duplicate (look like) items. I was a victim, once i saw an ad for Skullcandy head phone. I decided to buy and called him, he was told that it was an unwanted gift want to expedite immediately, so I decided to buy, afterI bought then only I recognised it is a duplicate item. (it cost Dh10 from dragon mart, i paid Dh80.) immediatelyIi called him but he is not picking the phone.

  • leonel

    Aug 22, 2013 8:21

    I am usually taking the public bus, while waiting, standing on the roadside, people come and offer to sell smartphones, I asked for the receipt then they immediately move away. please beware of this modus operandi.

  • manish garg

    Aug 22, 2013 8:15

    Please advise, why such business or sites are encouraged. I myself has bought couple of things from such websites off course without receipt and warranty but never thought of such situation. I strongly recommend to block such sites OR site owners shouldn't allow anyone to post and offer any product for sell without thorough checking. Dear UAE community I urge not to use such sites anymore.... Our self respect and dignity is much much costlier then few bucks savings.

  • David Woodward

    Aug 22, 2013 8:02

    Reputable sales websites ask for details of the seller - and hopefully they maintain records which should include sending a scanned copy of passport or EID card - if not they should be forced to under law Non-reputable sales web sites - people who buy from them are being foolish Private sales - Obtain a hand written receipt and a copy of ID otherwise don't buy however tempting the offer is These simple rules are just common sense and everyone should follow them or expect the worst - stolen goods, fakes, breakdowns without any liability .... is it really worth it ??

  • Fredrik

    Aug 22, 2013 2:46

    Why detain an innocent man. What is going on with the UAE?!

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