Jim Knoll with the Clarksville Police Department sees it all the time, people scammed out of hundreds of dollars after meeting up to buy or sell an iPhone from someone they met online or through an app.
“In one week, we’ve had at least three,” said Knoll, spokesperson for Clarksville Police Department.
“Some way, shape or form, they were ripped off and, in one case, a person was even robbed,” he said.
On July 2, one victim was supposed to buy an iPhone 8 from someone he met through an app.
“They met, gave him the money, guy went on his way then he turned the phone on and finds out it’s got a lock in on it,” Knoll said.
The victim lost $120.
The next rip-off happened on July 6.
“Person was selling a phone for $400,” Knoll said. “He was given counterfeit money.”
Police said by the time the victim realized the money was fake, it was too late.
“The kid took off running,” Knoll said.
On July 8, another victim lost more than $800 trying to sell his iPhone X.
The buyer used counterfeit money, according to police.
“The guy actually looked at the money and realized that it was fake money,” Knoll said. “He started to confront the guy, next thing you know a gun’s displayed.”
Since April 1, Clarksville police said 46 smartphones have been stolen through burglaries, robberies, and meet-ups gone wrong.
“You’re dealing with the unknown both ways,” Knoll said. “You don’t know who’s selling and who’s buying.”
Knoll said people need to look out for red flags such as locations that seem sketchy.
“If somebody wants to meet you in a remote area— red flag,” Knoll said.
He said whether you’re buying from or selling to someone you’ve never met, always meet in a public place.
Police add the safest place to meet is outside a police station where there are security cameras and help is just a few feet away.
Knoll said if things take a wrong turn or someone pulls a weapon, give them what they ask for.
“Objects are replaceable,” Knoll said. “Your life is not.”