Check a cellphone's serial number when buying second-hand: Calgary police

Feb 14 2020, 9:59 am

Calgary police are encouraging people to take a few extra steps when buying a cellphone through a buy-and-sell site after an uptick in robberies from mobile retailers.

According to a Calgary Police Service news release, a portion of all phones sold through buy-and-sell sites like Craigslist are actually stolen — and that’s why the price seems too-good-to-be-true.

Police are “asking citizens to practice safe internet transactions to help stop the demand for cell phones obtained through crime,” the force said in a statement.

They ask buyers to enquire about a cellphone’s serial number or EMEI number before buying. It’s a unique 15-digit number that buyers can plug in to devicecheck.ca, a free service shows if a phone has been reported stolen.

“We’re asking anyone who finds they have purchased a stolen phone or who have had their phone stolen to report the incident to police,” Staff Sgt. Mark England said. “We want to stop the cycle of phones being stolen and resold.”

Other tips from police for safer buy-and-sell meetups include:

  • Meet in a public place with other people around
  • Bring a friend or family member if possible
  • Use cash, don’t pay using cheques or money wiring services
  • Don’t give out personal or banking information
  • Inform the buy-and-sell site of any attempted fraud or suspicious activity
  • If you suspect fraud, file a police report
  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is