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iPhone auction fakes swindle the impatient

Caveat emptor for unwary bidders

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Buyers unable to wait until Friday are looking to hundreds of eBay auctions to get their hands on Apple's latest Newton-a-like - but many of the auctions are fakes and scams, prompting eBay to tighten its restrictions on sales of the much-desired handset.

O2 staff are already able to buy the phone at the Bath Street office, and the public launch is scheduled for 18.00 (or possibly 18.02) on Friday, but that's not stopped bidders trying to snap up unlocked handsets. Sellers claim their wares work in the UK, despite the fact that all UK iPhones will be locked to O2.

A brief search revealed one seller offering an iPhone as brand new, sealed in its box, and unlocked - a feat necessitating some form of reverse-Houdinism, as reprogramming the handset would usually require, er, gaining access to the contents of the box. We tried to confirm what kind of brilliant escapist trickery was used, but were unable to contact the seller.

Research from NetNames found that 70 per cent of the auctions were offering unlocked handsets, and 62 per cent of them claimed to have stock already in the UK, though many were selling the Chinese knockoff known as the CECT iphone.

The site has been so busy eBay has updated its restrictions on the phone, basically a cut-and-paste of those applied during the US launch but replacing "AT&T" with "O2", and "10 July" with "9 November". So to recap - to sell an iPhone on eBay:

  • One-day listings and three-day listings are not allowed.
  • You must offer PayPal as a payment method.
  • New sellers cannot list using the Buy It Now (Fixed Price) option.

Waiting until Friday might seem like an easier option, but remember that UK iPhones haven't been hacked yet so will be locked to O2, for a while at least. ®

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