BYU-Hawaii students who have been scammed by local online sellers warn of the risks of buying online and emphasized the importance of testing products checking the IMEI code before purchase.
Edisonne Ng, a sophomore from the Philippines studying accounting, said he bought a non-fully paid Samsung phone from a local Hawaiian seller through the “Schofield Barracks Buy, Sell, Trade” Facebook group. he said it worked for two months before the signal was blocked.
“I found out through a T-Mobile worker that the phone was not fully paid. I contacted the seller but she said, ‘It’s sold already,’ and she was not willing to help out. There was no response from her after [that].”
Conner Carlini, a sophomore from Utah studying psychology, said he was not able to receive a refund for a $300 locked Samsung Galaxy phone that he bought from a seller on the Facebook page “sell your stuff @ BYU-Hawaii.”
He said, “When I met [the seller] at Foodland, I couldn’t fully check [the phone] because I didn’t have a nano SIM card. But I bought it anyways because I thought I could trust someone who had graduated from BYUH.”
Carlini said he regretted buying the phone without testing it because he found out the phone was locked. He said, “I even went to the AT&T store twice to get the phone tested out and was eventually blocked by the seller on Facebook for trying to get a refund. Even after going to the Office of Honor and campus security, I still couldn’t receive any help since the seller graduated already.”
Vaimiti Cate, a social work alumni from Tahiti, said she was not only sold a locked iPhone, but also found out the phone was someone else’s. According to Cate, when she asked for a refund from the BYUH seller, the seller told her, “I don’t have the money anymore. It’s sold already. I told you that I have a phone, but I didn’t say that I own the phone.”
Even though Cate couldn’t get her refund, she said she learned to forgive. She said, “It’s okay. [The seller] was young. That was my fault. I should’ve checked the phone before I bought it.”
Ng said he also learned to just accept it and ended up buying a new phone. “I should’ve gotten the IMEI code in order to find out if the phone is paid fully or unlocked.”
An IMEI code is a 15-digit code unique to a phone that can be used to see the phone’s purchase history, just like a car’s VIN number, according to IMEIPro.
“Be really careful. Buying things online is risky. Check your product thoroughly. Don’t get too excited,” Ng advised.
Carlini added, “I don’t want to assume that [the seller] was lying, but you can’t trust anyone 100 percent without testing [the product] fully. Make sure it does everything you expected it to do. Don’t trust that person unless you know where he lives.”
Lorin Vilayvong, graphic design alumni from California, said she was almost scammed into renting a cheap house through the website Craiglist. She said, “Be aware of things are too good to be true, especially when it’s cheap.”