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Amazon scammers are buying iPhones and switching them for clay

If there’s a way to scam people for money on the internet, someone is going to figure it out. On Amazon, there’s a new type of purchasing scam popping up on listings for the iPhone. A number of buyers have posted pictures of blocks of clay, claiming that’s what they received instead of an iPhone in the box. However, it’s probably the buyer, not the seller, that’s working a scam here.

You can look through the lowest rated reviews on the latest generation iPhones on Amazon to see for yourself. There are a few of these clay scammers in the first couple pages. They’ve even got photos to “prove” they were scammed. But why the clay? The clay is used to prevent the seller from pointing to the shipping weight as proof they sent the phone.

When someone running this scam buys an iPhone, they remove it from the package and replace it with clay. They then file a claim with Amazon and point to the photo posted to their review as proof that they were the victim of an unscrupulous seller. Amazon has policies (the A-Z Guarantee) that strongly favor the buyer in these instances, so odds are good that Amazon will refund the money and leave the scammer with a free iPhone.

These same policies make it extremely unlikely that a seller would actually send a box of clay to a buyer. Not only could that get them booted from Amazon, but it’s very unlikely to work. Additionally, the buyers making these claims are all using new accounts. If Amazon doesn’t believe them and issues a ban, they can make another account and still have the iPhone that was purchased. Even if the scam only works occasionally they come out ahead.

The unlocked iPhone is a perfect target for this scam because it’s only sold by third-party sellers on Amazon, and it’s expensive. The 128GB iPhone 6s costs almost $1,000 and has extremely high resale value. You could sell it for even more if it’s imported into another country. Meanwhile, the sellers are left with negative reviews that hurt their sales.

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