Michigan mother spends $450 for two bars of soap in iPhone scam

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (WXYZ/CNN) - A Michigan mother trying to buy an iPhone for her daughter lost $450 when she says she met up with a seller from the app Let Go and received only two bars of soap.

The 18-year-old suspect used a fake name on the Let Go app but her actual phone number, with which police were able to identify her. She has been ticketed, and if she doesn’t show up to court, a warrant will be issued for her arrest. (Source: WXYZ/CNN)

Samantha Powell says the scam started as what she thought was a good faith purchase arrangement. While searching for an iPhone for her 14-year-old daughter, the mother saw a phone for sale on the app Let Go, which facilitates local transactions.

Powell says she and the seller agreed on the price of $450, which the mother had saved up over six months for the purchase.

The two met at an apartment complex in Allen Park, Michigan. Powell’s husband also attended the sale.

But when they exchanged the money and iPhone box, Powell says the seller took off running. Her husband opened the box and found no phone, just two bars of soap, presumably used to simulate the weight of a phone.

“We opened it and both seen it. We were just dumbfounded, staring at it like, ‘Did that really just happen?’” Powell said. “It was on me. I just wasn’t smart enough. She outsmarted me.”

Powell called police and filed a report about the “sale.” She later found out the 18-year-old suspect went on Facebook and bragged about what she had done.

"She was pretty much saying ‘haha,’ thinking that she wasn’t going to get caught,” Powell said.

The suspect had used a fake name on Let Go but provided Powell with her actual phone number. With that number, police were able to identify her. She has been ticketed, and if she doesn’t show up to court, a warrant will be issued for her arrest.

Police say this serves as a costly reminder of how important it is to do similar transactions at a police station.

"Online transactions are incredibly risky, and they’re not getting any better,” said Detective James Thorburn with the Allen Park Police Department. “Out in the parking lot or in lobby doesn’t matter - we’re always open, and I think that’s the safest bet nowadays because who knows? I mean, this is a bar of soap, but much worse things have happened.”

Following her experience, Powell is also warning others.

"You need to be very, very careful, and then, go with your gut feeling. If it feels like a scam, then it probably is,” she said.

The mother was later able to buy an iPhone for her daughter through Craigslist. For the purchase, she met the seller at the police department and had no issues.

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