Mother's cell phone deal is a bust - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mother's cell phone deal is a bust

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

What parent isn't constantly trying to save money? One North Idaho mom thought she was doing everything right when she tracked down quite a deal online for a cell phone. She met the seller at a Verizon store to make sure everything was clean. She said employees told her everything was on the up and up. Days later when she went to activate the phone, she was told it had been reported stolen sometime after the day she bought it.

"It just makes me second guess trusting anybody," the victim Robyn said "I feel really duped."

Like any mom, Robyn was hoping to score a deal on a big Christmas gift for her son.

"I looked on all the sites, Facebook, OfferUp, Craigslist, just searching for a phone," she said.

Finding one on the site OfferUp didn't take long, $250 for a S6 Galaxy. Robyn wanted to make sure it wasn't too good to be true.

"I met (the seller) at a Verizon store," she said. "I specifically said lets meet at a Verizon store to have it checked out."

She thought she was doing everything right. She said a Verizon employee at the North town Mall store scanned the phone for red flags, and found none.       

They were able to check it out and they said it was not stolen," she said. "I went ahead and bought it. I wrapped it up and gave it to my son."

Robyn was ecstatic until days later when they went to actually activate the phone.

"We went to activate it at the Hayden Verizon store and they said it was stolen," she said. "This was just a matter of a few weeks. It's basically a paper weight now."

Robyn wasn't sure exactly when, but at some point between the time of purchase and the activation attempt, the legitimate owner of the phone reported it stolen. It's unknown how the seller got his hands on the stolen merchandise.

"It's kind of a bum deal," Robyn's son said. "I think some people would still have a heart."

The family was hopeful the seller would.

"When I did contact the man who sold us the phone, he said he would meet us and exchange the phone for a different one and that he would call me back in an hour," she said.

That was a call that never came, despite this particular seller being quite active online. The family said they found posts by the same sender on multiple sites. They searched his phone number and said they found postings on Offer Up, Craigslist and Facebook. Robyn said she also recognized the same pictures.

Hayley Guenthner also reached out to him through one of his various postings. When she got him on the phone, he abruptly hung up when Hayley asked if he was selling stolen property.

Hayley didn't give up. She then texted the seller who agreed to give Robyn a new phone. The family, however, didn't want to risk coming across more stolen stuff and only wanted their money back. The seller told Hayley he would make two payments to return the money, but only if Hayley agreed to keep his name out of the story. When Hayley was unable to make any guarantees, he lashed out with profanities.

That's when Hayley called Verizon to see if they'd be willing to help. She made calls and emails, and ensured the family and Robyn connected.

Within days, the company agreed to send the family and new phone and waive all fees.

And while Robyn is ecstatic, she fears many other moms who use the web for big purchases won't get so lucky.

"I just feel the public should know," she said.

Hayley also contacted OfferUp about the situation to make sure they were aware. The released the following statement…

"OfferUp does not tolerate criminal activity and we have a 24/7 Trust and Safety team available to respond to any issues. If you have been the victim of a crime or suspect criminal activity, please reach out to your local police department and support@offerup.com immediately."

Area law enforcement urge anyone in a similar situation to also report it to crime check.

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