Credit Cards The Basics

When A Deal Sounds Too Good To Be True…

buy a stolen item
Written by Charlie

With a new story of stolen credit cards and fraudulent goods, here is a look at what happened when I bought something that was stolen.What happens when you buy stolen goods?

There was a story that caught my eye this week about a woman that stole credit card information and used it to charge $190,000 worth of items on the cards. She was eventually caught and the investigation is ongoing to find what she did with the money. But, what she bought was of interest to me as well. She bought $190,000 worth of MacBook Pros. As someone who has bought and sold quite a few of them over the years, it made me halt for a moment to think if I had bought one recently.

When A Deal Sounds Too Good To Be True…

buy a stolen item

What happens when you buy a stolen item? | Courtesy of Shutterstock

Since I started using Apple devices, I have bought and sold them each year since I get a great deal on them to begin with and then I am able to flip it when the new model comes out without losing any of the money I paid initially. It is my little way of getting a new warranty without having to pay for AppleCare, while getting a nice new piece of a tech at the same time.

My Experience With A Device Bought With A Stolen Credit Card

But, this story reminds us that we do need to be careful of who we are buying certain things from. A couple of years ago, I bought an iPad on eBay that was a pretty good price. It wasn’t really far below market value but was low enough that it allowed me to easily pick that auction over another one. I did my thing of using it for a while before selling it again. Since I have done this dozens of times, that was the last time I thought about that particular iPad.

Until I received a phone call from a detective at a Florida police department. It turns out that the iPad I had bought (and then sold) had been purchased with stolen credit card information and was one of a large lot (over 300) that this man unloaded on eBay and Amazon. They had identified the man and were building a case against him and that involved running down all the iPads the he had sold.

What Happened To Me

The detective assured me that I was not going to be in trouble for buying/selling it. The person that I had sold it to would have to talk with the police about the item but I did not have to worry since I did not know it was a stolen item when I bought it or sold it. I felt really bad for my buyer but did feel a sense of relief that I was in the clear and nothing would happen with me!

The laws differ state by state but this was how it was handled with me with the state of Florida. However, be aware that even if you are not in trouble for the buying of stolen goods, you will likely need to surrender what you bought. I am not sure what happened with my buyer since he had bought it from me but I know that was not told or directed to refund anything.

Takeaways On Dealing With This

So, how could I have prevented this? The serial number was not registered as stolen (nor would it have been since it was bought from a store, but with a fraudulent card). The person had good feedback on eBay and the price was not that much lower than other sellers.

Looking back, I should have checked to see how many similar items he/she was selling. Obviously, they would have wanted to move as many as they could in a short amount of time and that could have been a tip-off.

Also, take notice of the price if the person is selling it brand new. Apple products are typically price-controlled (actually, not quite as much as before) and it is going to be rare to find a non-eBay Daily Deal new Apple product at much more than a 15% discount from other auctions. Especially if there are a bunch for sale from the same seller!

One time, I almost bought a video accessory that was at a huge discount – like $1,300 off for a new item (sale price was at $400). I asked the seller about it and when he said that he had 10 total because they had fallen off a truck (seriously, that is what he said), I knew I needed to pass – even though it really hurt!

It is always great to find good deals but always be cautious in your dealings with sellers and protect your credit card information! While you could be made whole, it will take a long time and inconvenience so operate cautiously in the first place.

Have you ever bought something that was stolen/fraudulently obtained? What happened?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.