Woman finds pics of nude dudes on her ‘new' phone

Buying a used phone comes with a few risks, but after weighing up the pros and cons, many of us are happy to take the plunge if it means getting our hands on a real bargain. But when we purchase a new phone, we have certain expectations that we trust will be met, especially when buying directly from one of the networks.

So when Gina Lala purchased a Motorola Droid X handset labelled as new from an independent Verizon Wireless store in Skokie, Illinois, the last thing that she expected to find on it was someone else’s photos. She told NBC Chicago: “I go into the photo gallery, and there are pictures of people I don’t know, that had already obviously been on the phone. Very disturbing pictures, very offensive pictures.”


A Motorola Droid X. (This probably wasn't one of the photos found on the handset.)

Despite being sold a phone that the store told her was brand new, she had evidently been sold a used handset, at full price, with a photo gallery filled with sexually explicit images of naked men. While some buyers might consider that a free bonus (*giggle*), Lala was understandably not amused.

She returned the phone to the Verizon store, where staff apologised and offered to replace the handset. They insisted that it had been an honest mistake on their part to incorrectly sell a used device as new, and gave their assurances that it wouldn’t happen again. Unbelievably, it happened again (albeit without the nude dudes).


Nancy Lala (left) with her daughter Gina (right)

A year later, Gina’s mother Nancy went to the same Verizon store to purchase a brand new iPhone 4S. When she returned home, it quickly became clear that despite being sold a ‘new’ handset, this one too was second-hand. Nancy explained: “I looked at the box, and on the back of the box, there was a little sticky note that said that this phone had been slammed on a desk and there’s a nick on the back.”


The sticky note that Gina Lala found on the box of her 'new' iPhone 4S from Verizon.

Verizon issued a statement regarding the Lalas’ unusual situation:

We require full disclosure that a device has been previously used. Equipment sales are the agent’s independent business, however. To the extent full disclosure was not provided, we would certainly take corrective action. We appreciate the issue being brought to our attention and we are committed to ensuring adherence with our policies. We will address any customer concerns directly. It is our goal to ensure customer satisfaction."

However, it's emerged that the Lalas are not alone in apparently being sold used devices as brand new, and the problem appears more widespread than just one Verizon store in Illinois, with customers from AT&T, Cricket Wireless and retailer TigerDirect.com claiming to have also been incorrectly sold used handsets, believing they were buying new ones.

The CTIA, the body that claims to represent the interests of America’s wireless telecommunications industry, did not respond to any of NBC’s questions and calls for comment regarding the incorrect sales of used and refurbished handsets as new.

One can’t help but crack a smile at the irony of being unable to contact the people representing the wireless industry.


Second and third images via NBC

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31 Comments

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I had that happen to me too at AT&T. The device was in a NEW boc, but the screen protector that comes on new devices was gone and it had fingerprints all over the screen. The store I got it from was closed, so i went with my receipt to another store that was open. He refused to exchange it. I asked why? He gave no ood answer, so I asked him where is the Cuatomer Service phone. They all had people on them in the store, but I saw one behind the counter. So I just walked back there and used it. He was like, you can't do that. I was like, well you chose not to exchange my phone, you can't do that. He was like I am going to call security. I was liek call whoever you want too, but I am making this call. I asked to speak to a CS manager and I explained what happened. The manager was a bit snobbish, but rules are rules. I had a receipt, he should have exchanged it.

She forced thsi store to give me a full refund since I decided to cancel the newly made contract, and ATT paid my ETF fee from swtiching from VZW to them only for them to screw up my purchasing process and they also paid for my first month service with VZW via a gift card that had $200 on it.

If she bought it new and it had a dent on it why didn't she just say no to the deal? What do I need to do? Go out there and wave a red flag in her face? As soon as I saw the note/dent I would have thrown (literally) it back at the guy and said "I don't care. Give me a new one. Don't like it? Call the cops. We'll settle it that way. It's your mistake you dropped it. Why should I suffer?"

She's ugly for accepting it though cause all new iPhones come with a dent in the back....limited time offer......

Selling gently used as new is not uncommon in the wireless business
My current wireless provider has a 14-day no hassle return policy. It used to be 14-day or 100 minutes of talk time, when those things were important.

When the devices come back, they are supposed to be flashed back to stock, and THEN re-sold.

The only problem here is that these outfits aren't flashing back to stock before attempting to re-sell.

I think that taking a return and trying to resell it as new is dishonest, even if it was only gone from the store for less than a day. If the factory seals are broken, then that's it. It is no longer a new device. Its up to the reseller to assume the risk of taking a loss because of a return, and it shouldn't be OK to just lie about it to new customers. Throw a $5-10 discount on the box, mark it as a return and they would still sell just fine. Best Buy does it all the time. My first iPad was discounted $60 because it was a return.

dotf said,

The only problem here is that these outfits aren't flashing back to stock before attempting to re-sell.

That is one of two problems. They were told the items were brand new. If you open a brand new product up, it shouldn't have a "nick on the back"

dotf said,
Selling gently used as new is not uncommon in the wireless business
My current wireless provider has a 14-day no hassle return policy. It used to be 14-day or 100 minutes of talk time, when those things were important.

When the devices come back, they are supposed to be flashed back to stock, and THEN re-sold.

The only problem here is that these outfits aren't flashing back to stock before attempting to re-sell.


It's illegal I believe. If the factory seals have been broken the device can no longer be classified as new.

Sure it may well be a brand new device that only saw like 1 second of use, but the company still has to sell it as refurbished / like new / returned w/e.

This happened to me (minus the nude pics) when I bought my Samsung Captivate on Newegg. What bothered me was that it was sealed and there were obviously pictures on it from Newegg's store/warehouse/etc...with time stamps and GPS of the city.

I didn't really want the hassle of shipping the phone back and waiting for a new one since it appeared to be in perfect condition otherwise, and they offered me like $20 or so off what I paid.

To naap51stang's point, I do check the factory seal on big ticket items when buying at a store but have also got burned that way. When buying a Xbox 360 elite, I got home and while the seal was intact, someone else had cleverly opened it and glued it back, removing the free game and included controller. Target didn't believe me initially but I eventually got them to allow me to open the other 360 they had in front of them.

It amazes me that people do these things. The worst I knew were people with access to a shrink wrap machine that bought N64 games and then replaced them with old cassette tapes. One of the guys finally got caught when he bought a large joystick and I kid you not, replaced it with a can of turpentine.

Doesn't it seem a little "odd" that this mother/daughter combo are the only ones having issues with buying new phones and getting used?

BobSlob said,
Doesn't it seem a little "odd" that this mother/daughter combo are the only ones having issues with buying new phones and getting used?

The article does state this is not the only case.

First thing I look for on a NEW device is the factory seal. Not some sticky tape the store places on the device. I haven't purchased one from a carrier in years, but I always told the store drones when I did, DO NOT open it until you let me check it first.

independent Verizon Wireless store in Skokie, Illinois,
There is your problem right there. These 3rd party stores for cellular companies are typically always scammers and have horrible customer service. Most times they remind me of a used car lot..

And this is why I don't buy anything from Verizon/AT&T/etc stores.

tuneslover said,
How a pic of nude guy can be offensive?

Quite easily.

tuneslover said,
How a pic of nude guy can be offensive?

In America, Nudity is more offensive than the most grotesque violence. Its in our culture.

recursive said,

Congratulations on coming out of the closet..

I don't know man...i mean it could be offensive to Indian women who remain virgin until marriage. But an American woman who slept with ..I don't know..at least 5-6 guys?!...It definitely can't be offensive.

Shadrack said,

In America, Nudity is more offensive than the most grotesque violence. Its in our culture.


Philosoraptor ponders:
So the act of reproduction is actually worse than domestic violence?

GS:mac

I don't see what this has to do at all with the carrier. She bought the handset from an independent store - the onus is on them to sort it.

I was thinking the same thing...

It says something about how jaded we are when the leading edge of a story like this is a ridiculous last name.

I don't get it. She bought the phone and only when she got home she noticed sticky note in the back? How little was the thing?

Leonard3E said,
I don't get it. She bought the phone and only when she got home she noticed sticky note in the back? How little was the thing?

My thought exactly ... any time I buy a 'new' phone at the store, I turn it one before leaving to make sure I get the set-up screen. I think she would have noticed (if she had 1/2 a brain) that there was a big sticky note on her phone box.

Allan® said,

(if she had 1/2 a brain)

You do realize that not everyone is into technology or knows how to spot scammers? That doesn't mean they have 1/2 of a brain. Stop talking down to normal people who don't spend every minute of the day dealing with technology or crap like this. I can do it too. "If you had half a brain you would know that not everyone is an informed customer." See works just as well and is just as dumb.

If the note was on the outside of the box and wasn't noticed in the store, chances are it was done on purpose and was put into the bag before the customer had a chance to spot it.

Leonard3E said,
I don't get it. She bought the phone and only when she got home she noticed sticky note in the back? How little was the thing?

The store clerk probably handed the 'phone over in a bag, ergo she'd have not seen the sticker.

I recently upgraded my Desire to an S II, and Vodafone sent me a refurbished handset rather than a brand new one, so it went straight back and they sent out a new one. They admitted a stock error, and rectified it quickly.