When buying a used Mac, it is extremely important to keep an eye out for scams and do your best to avoid them. This is especially true when buying from Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and other ecommerce companies that have Marketplaces.
While some companies, like eBay, have some protections for their customers, in most cases buying and selling is a bit of a free for all. This means, people can steal products and sell them or sell non-working products with very few consequences.
Often, after stealing a device, they will use a general picture of that same product that makes buyers think it works, when the buyer picks up the product and takes it home, the seller has blocked the buyer. The buyer is then out the money, defeating the purpose of trying to save money by buying a used Mac.
So, here are a few tips on how to avoid scams when buying Macs, which can also apply to other Apple devices:
How to avoid scams:
- Buy from a reliable reseller- Whether you buy your used Mac from an ARS (Apple Retail Store) or an AASP (Apple Authorized Service Provider/reseller), try to buy from somewhere that protects its buyers from scams. Generally, this means the products come with a return policy, so that if there is a major issue, the product may be able to be returned. Keep in mind, however, that return policies for used products are often different than they are for new products.
- Avoid Marketplaces- While I am sure some people score great deals on Macs on Facebook Marketplace, I've also seen a lot of scams on there. In my opinion, it is better to pay a little bit more for the trust of a company than risk wasting your money on a scam.
- Make sure the device is unlocked- Before paying, make sure the device is not stolen and has been signed out of iCloud and Find My. If it is still connected to Find My, make the seller sign out for you using the steps found on applesupport.com. Having a device locked because of Find My usually means it's stolen, though some sellers simply forget to take the steps necessary before selling and aren't trying to scam buyers. If the device is signed in to iCloud and Find My, you may never be able to properly use it. In this case, you've bought a brick.
- Make sure the Mac turns on- Don't buy a device that you can't turn on. Always check that it turns on first and takes you to set up. If you don't go straight to set up, then the seller didn't take the necessary steps to sign themselves out, etc. This could end you up in trouble later.
- Make sure pictures are candid- Essentially, make sure that the pictures are the real thing, not stock images, or ones stolen online. You can do this by asking for a video of the device turning on, etc. Of course, do so tactfully. Most sellers understand the scams out there and will not be offended by an extra picture or video.