California man accused of swinding homeless in iPhone resale scheme
A group of homeless people reportedly recruited into helping a resaler purchase dozens of new Apple iPhones accused the unidentified businessman of stiffing them on the deal they agreed upon before lining up outside a Pasadena, California store.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that police drove the man away from the store Friday morning, carrying several of the phones, after getting into a confrontation with some of his recruits, many of whom complained they were not paid for their time. They were reportedly promised $20 for each of the two phone purchase vouchers the store offered to customers. The man, who refused to identify himself to reporters, also allegedly promised them food and cigarettes while they waited.
“They need to bring him back, to pick up the people that he brought here,” 49-year-old Vivian Fields told the Times. “We have no way to get home.”
Fields, who uses a wheelchair, also told the Times that she was taken to the store at 7 p.m. on Thursday to begin waiting for her chance to acquire the vouchers after being recruited at a local homeless shelter. According to the Times, at least 200 people were outside the store when it opened early Friday morning. Business Insider reported that another person recruited for the plan was placed on a 72-hour mental health hold by police after running into the street out of anger over not getting paid.
The unidentified man told KCAL-TV that he organized the purchases on behalf of his company, which sells them outside the U.S. for as much as $1,000 apiece, adding, “It’s not illegal, it’s not against the law to buy them. I’m buying them at full retail price.”
A local police spokesperson, Lt. Jason Clawson, told the Times that they do not plan to investigate the allegations against the man.
“It’s not a police issue. It’s a business issue,” Clawson said to the Times.
Two men were arrested in a separate incident after getting into a fight while standing in line.
Watch KCAL’s report on the resale scheme and the confrontation that ensued, aired Friday, below.