Probably the biggest smartphone scam that’s been going around for at least the last 10 years is on eBay is people buying phones on carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon then claim insurance on them(so they get a new phone for free) after 3-6 months after you buy the phone. The reason why this scam works is because eBay itself ONLY guarantees you for 30-days at maximum(if seller does) and by the time your phone is blacklisted 3 to 6 months later, eBay is no longer responsible for the blacklisted phone. It is actually the perfect scammer for scammers out there but if you are just trying to get a brand, new phone for a bit cheaper then buying at the stores, you may end up paying hundred of dollars more.
This actually happened to me once when I bought a slightly used T-Mobile phone that was about 6 months old. When I first got the phone, it worked flawless but after about 6 months, suddenly my phone stopped getting signal. I could still use the phone using WiFi but it would not connect to T-Mobile network. Upon calling T-Mobile, they told me it had been blacklisted and because I wasn’t the original buyer, there is NOTHING they can do about it. I basically kissed my $700 goodbye!
How to avoid this scam? Well, most eBay smartphones that are carrier-branded are most likely scams unless they are from a reputable seller who sells hundreds of them at a time, just avoid individuals and smaller sellers as they will exit scam you even if they have perfect reviews and sold hundreds of items. I would ONLY buy from sellers who have at least feedback score of at least 10,000 and been selling on eBay for at least 10 years. I know that sounds like a big seller but trust me, there are professional scammers who sell thousands of crappy products then exit scam by selling a ton of smartphones that will be blacklisted in 3-6 months.
You can always buy international models of the phone. For example, the Galaxy Note 9 is coming out in a few weeks and when it does, you will have the option to buy the international model, which is safe since they cannot get blacklisted in the U.S. If you are a U.S. resident, you are safe with international models. Likewise, if you live in U.K., you can still use a blacklisted T-Mobile Note 9 as the blacklist is only country-basis where your carrier operates. Companies like Samsung and LG have also started selling unlocked versions of their phones that are not carrier-branded and can be used on all AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon as they are GSM/CDMA hybrid phones. Those are safe to buy on eBay since they cannot be blacklisted by carriers.
Now, buying older phones also should be safe for phones that are 2 years or older (although they can still scam you if they bought it somehow through the carrier). I buy a lot of carrier-branded phones on eBay that are at least 2-years old. I wouldn’t worry about getting scammed on these older phones are the price on them are usually low and scammers are really interested in making the most money with newer phones.
Phones you should NOT buy on eBay that are AT&T/T-Mobile/Sprint/Verizon as of this writing(Aug. 2018)?
- Galaxy S8/S8+
- Galaxy S9/S9+
- Galaxy Note 8
- Galaxy Note 9
- LG G6
- LG V30
- LG G7
Any older phones should be fine though.