CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Websites like Craig's List have become the modern day garage sale. They can be a great way to save money on furniture, or sports equipment, but a Charlotte woman found certain buys are wrought with risk.
"Well I found a good deal," said Tiffany who asked that we keep her last name out of this. "$220 for an iPhone 4S 16 gigabyte."
It was for her daughter whose old phone had gone on the blink. Tiffany called the number on the ad.
"He (the seller) was eager to meet me," said Tiffany.
The seller's name was Hugo Anzola. His posts on Craig's List showed him to a personal trainer as well as a cell phone salesman. Tiffany, as you should when meeting someone you don't know, met Anzola in a public area. A CVS parking lot in the Ballantyne area of Charlotte. She says Anzola assured her the was a 4S, 16 gigabit phone and ready to be moved to her account.
"(I) didn't have any reason to doubt him," said Tiffany.
Turns out she did. The phone wasn't a 4S, it was an older 4. It wasn't 16 gig, it was 8. And even worse, the phone was attached to someone else's name. So, a single mom, who scraped together the cash do something nice for her teenage daughter, had a phone that was useless.
"I just got taken advantage of, it hurts, " said Tiffany.
Tom Bartholomy of the Better Business Bureau, says devices like smart phones are an especially dicey proposition on sites like Craig's List.
"It comes to be a problem with things that have to be activated," said Bartholomy. "You're not going to have that opportunity to test it. The on-off may work, but as far as any service to it, totally different game."
The phone Tiffany tried to buy was connected to a Sprint account. WBTV contacted the company. We were told the company can't provide specifics on the phone Tiffany bought, but we were told this sort of thing happens all too often. A manager said he'd be willing to try to help her get a working phone.
"I'm very excited," said Tiffany's teenage daughter.
Sprint did come through. Tiffany's daughter has in her hand right now a working iPhone. This time it was a deal they were very happy with.
"Good news today," said Tiffany. " Went to Sprint and they were able to help me take care of this issue."
But she was still out the $220 she gave Anzola. WBTV found him coming out of a Ballantyne area condo. The encounter with him was brief. A WBTV news producer asked if we could ask him about his cell phone business.
"I don't think so," said Anzola as he shut his car door and sped away.
We also attempted to call and email him, but have not received a response.
If you search sites like Craig's List, you'll find dozens of new ads come out every single day for cell phones. If you are thinking about buying a phone this way, cell service providers suggest you tell the seller you'll meet at the store. You can then check the phone out before giving up your cash.
If the seller won't meet there, you probably should walk away.