Update: Future Shop, Best Buy, Walmart and London Drugs fall victim to selling clay iPad 2s, launches full scale fraud investigation

Ian Hardy

January 17, 2012 2:02 pm


Here’s a good scam: Purchase an iPad 2 from a big box store, take it home, replace the box contents with a bag full of clay, seal it up and return it to the retailer – then grab the cash and bolt for the door. This process not tonly happened once but 10 times at various Future Shop and Best Buy locations in Vancouver.

Several customers who were ripped off contacted the retailer early January about the scam, since then, Future Shop and Best Buy have started a fraud investigation to see how this actually happened and who’s behind it. Elliott Chun, Future Shop spokesperson, stated that “It really saddens Future Shop to know that people stoop to this type of level to be opportunistic and make money in this sort of organized way… Customers don’t expect to receive this kind of product from Future Shop, so it’s a very serious matter and something we are addressing right away for anyone who has been impacted”… hope Future Shop/Best Buy have some serious cameras installed by the return desk.

Update: It seems that there is a trend happening at Vancouver retail locations. Both London Drugs and Walmart have come forward with customers returning iPad 2s with clay inside.

Source: CTV
(Thanks Ted!)

  • MXM4K

    Damn if it isn’t clever, but it’s incredibly sad that people would do this.

    • CADDMan

      The iClay tablet is still better than any Android tablet.

    • boby

      actually it is the fault of bestbuy and futureshop.because they are selling returned products without checking by opening the products.they are trying to save their money because if they open a return product which is not open than they have to sell as openbox and they loose may be 50 dollars on that.
      it is good they got a lesson otherwise consumers were suffering when they were buying those products as new but they were returned by somebody

  • Kyle Alfred

    This is why I open the product at the checkout after I have paid in full view of the cashier and the cameras. Once you are out the door you lose any leverage to get this fixed and it becomes your word against the store. You will not win. This has saved me more than once and is something I always recommend to friends and family with larger purchases.

    • Kennedyk24

      I once went with my sister in law to get a kobo for my brother (walmart). The box had been previously opened and she asked the salesman if there was anything wrong with it (instead of opening it). we got home and there was no kobo. we went back and they were like, well where is it? A lot of arguing ensued before they gave us a new one.

    • Sean Smith

      Great point to check at the counter, especially high ticket items.
      I will start doing this moving forward. Unfortunate that people cheat the system, because it ultimately effects us all in the end.

    • Jonno

      this is actually why I as a sales person tend to personally go over a client’s purchased item in store with them. they know they have a working model, and i know i gave them a box with all the proper contents. just good business practices.

  • Kid.Canada

    All I can say is wow, and especially from a large electronic selling company. Def wasn’t expecting this at all :s

  • ELNY

    If they paid cash (which they probably did), they will only have their faces on camera…with Metro Vancouver having close to 3 million people, they may actually get away with it =(

  • L

    There are hundreds of way to rip off these stores… It’s just sad to see people actually abusing it.

  • Cody

    There’s too many i****s in the world.

  • Zane

    This story is not passing the smell test…unless Futureshop is truly a mediocre company. If someone returns an iPad 2 to the Returns desk, is that box not opened prior to giving a refund? What company would not check all returned items?

    At FS, a returned item goes on the shelf as an Open Box, which presumably has been checked over prior to reshelving. So customer #2 buys the open box iPad 2, takes it home, and finds a bag of clay instead? Gimme a break!

    • Tyler

      Exactly what I was thinking. When I returned an iPad due to a yellowing screen issue, the first thing they did was crack open the box. Perhaps these jackasses resealed the box and said they never opened it? Or someone wasn’t doing their job/was an inside man.

    • Dimitri K.

      The thing is tho some people will even wrap the box the same way Apple has. So this way the store nor anyone could tell. A lot of stores do not open the boxes if they are wrapped the same way that it was sold. This is why all this happens. It’s a mistake on their part because i am sure the wrapping could have a little thing somewhere to make sure its the same wrapping as the original.

      Alot of people scam Apple the same way. At least Apple has learned to Look at the products & even open the boxes even if they are unwrapped.

    • Shozz

      We had this issue at my store in Calgary (Best Buy). Retailers only checked opened product, in this case the ipads were shrink-wrapped making it seem as though it was never opened.

    • Kennedyk24

      I think it’s the way Tyler is saying. I’m thinking they resealed the package. Since it weighs the right amount and it’s sealed, it’s a straight return. lazyness on futureshop side, thinking it was brand new.

    • Nick

      Pretty simple really… reseal the box, and the retailer won’t want to break the seal (which would make them unable to put it back on the shelf at full price). It’s probably tricky to make the seal look good, but your typical return clerk isn’t a CSI investigator.

    • Jason

      The customer has re-sealed the box in the original cellophane wrap so it does not appear to be even opened as re-wrapping this with a heat seal isn’t something that everyone can do.

    • knowitall

      “Purchase an iPad 2 from a big box store, take it home, replace the box contents with a bag full of clay, seal it up and return it to the retailer”

      Read the article properly.

    • p2k

      Its not difficult to get a sealing machine off the internet. 95% of the time, if the item looks brand new unopened, they wont look any further at risk of damaging the packaging, and risk having to sell it at open box price.

      Although they haven’t mentioned anything about the weight of the clay, I suspect that it weights exactly the same a the original box.

    • Johnny

      ZANE: The item was sealed when returned so it looked new. Read mobilesyrup properly and thereby respect our leading mobile blog.

  • Azntron

    You should always, always check the contents of your purchase in store -with a staff member watching- for any purchase over $500. This has saved me several times, including my 60″ Sharp. The world is a sad place and there are flocks of people who will scam anything and anyone for a few hundred dollars. The same is said for large stores with super strict return policies to keep their shrink percentage down.

  • Dimitri K.

    Oh wow. People now & days try to scam everyone & everything. This is pretty sad. Although they might get caught seeing as cameras are set in place at the entrance & at the returns desk. Well i guess not Future Shop & Best buy will have to open each & every box being returned to make sure its not a fake one or not. I am noticing that a lot of places are having this issue not only them. I know someone that works at a service desk at walmart & you would not believe what people pull. Some put old stuff in the boxes in order to get their money back & have a new product.

    Also one thing. Here in Toronto & in Vaughn they ask for your name & number so they can know who brought it back. I guess they either never asked that OR they gave a fake name / number. I might be wrong tho but this is how they do it down here.

  • Boojay

    I don’t understand….what’s the difference between an ipad and a bag of clay?

  • Prefont

    well it s**ks that people are doing that but honestly i think its the return desk clerk to open the box and check that there is an ipad in the box no?

    from the picture its not even a fake ipad in the box. just a ziplock full of clay.

    • NoMail

      You have not worked in retail before. Would you open up a box of software if you were a return clerk? Maybe, would I buy an open software box? NO! Best buy cannot re-wrap a closed iPad and I’m fairly certain Apple does not allow authorized resellers to sell open box items.

  • mammud

    Definatly Indian People involved. I have bought items like this almost 40 years before in Mumbai India. Just cant beleive its happening at FS/BB. But have no problems as FS sales people hav been liing and selling unnecessay and unwanted stuff to people. Pay back time FS.

    • Dimitri K.

      Really? You are blaming Indians? Racist much? Not everyone that works for those stores are Indians. I can tell you Italian, Greeks, Canadians & other type of people work their as well. So really you can not just blame it on them. I have seen Americans & Canadians make so many mistakes at Wal-mart & Zellers but i am not blaming the Coulter they are in.

    • Retro442

      @Dimitri

      What exactly is a “Canadian”? I thought we were all Canadians once we have citizenship. Did you check these peoples passports?

  • jonny

    This is 100% the stores fault for allowing a customer to return an item and not checking to make sure the product is actually in there! I dont feel sorry for the stores at all.

    • p2k

      Thats the problem, the stores are passing the blame on to the customers… People who rebuy the clay are NOT getting their money back… So the stores are not losing anything…

  • Chris C.

    Wouldn’t it be more fullproof if one puts an old used ipad (e.g., ipad 1) in the package and return that and when they check it it will be almost no difference at all? They will never find out unless they pay careful attention to all the details of the product which some employee never really bother with anyway.

    This scheme will continue and no one will be able to stop it.

  • Bob the Builder

    Here’s a better scam : Get 10 friends to buy legit iPad 2′s at FutureShop , then call FutureShop and claim that there was only a bag of clay inside when you opened the box at home! That way you score another iPad 2!

  • Betty Koyle

    They sealed the packages, thats smart!

    Too bad doing the same thing with playbooks will only make you $200 vs. $500 for iPad

  • Denise

    I work @ a BBY in the GTA and we open all returning sealed iPads. Have for a while now.

  • David

    Still pretty dumb on the part of futureshop. As a former apple employee I can say that its pretty obvious when some re-shrink wraps an apple product as fraudsters do not have have access to the same shrink wrap machines that apple uses.

  • prufrock

    I think mammud was implying that it was Indian people committing the scam, Dimitri.

    I returned an opened 32 GB ipod touch last year to Futureshop in my allotted time period. I was amazed they never even looked in the package during the return; the case was clearly opened and I said as much.

    I imagine these returns were done in the mad rush after boxing day. With false ID and a large concentration of stores in a small area, they probably made more than a few thousand dollars in a day.

  • tweeker

    Clever indeed…sad as well because it means that all the more the return policies will be worse for the consumers.

    Funny did this ONLY happen in Vancouver? seems like our fine city is not short of fine, clever theives

    As for a retail POV i work at a place where people abuse the return policy so much ( it’s a good one at that, 90 day return if you aren’t happy we replace/give money back ) to the point where we had people come back two months after, have used the item so badly ( like really used it ) and then we gave them a new one because they were unhappy -_-’
    Oddly enough i don’t see such a problem with it in the states and they have good return policies in most stores..so i have to wonder…

  • Plazmic

    The “clay iPad 2″ scam was an inside job.

    How in the hell does some return an electronic device and you don’t look inside the box?!

    • Johnny

      It was sealed at return.

      “Here’s a good scam: Purchase an iPad 2 from a big box store, take it home, replace the box contents with a bag full of clay, seal it up and return it to the retailer”

  • Andre

    a corporation does not have emotions. FutureShop cannot be sad. FS’s chief spokesperson has demonstrated part of what is wrong with them and parent company Best Buy.

    Also, why would they not have opened returns before re-selling them? I won’t be giving my business to FS or BB.

  • captain

    so glad I buy everything at memory express or ncix

    • captcrunch

      Memx is not that great. I have seen them sell a open box transformer that was returned for RMA and it still has the old user’s data on it.

  • Sam

    That is why I never buy previously opened goods, unless they offer a serious bargain price. And even then I make sure that what is ON the box is actually IN the Box

  • Tristan

    Only bestbuy and futureshop are victim to scams.

    People are so naïve.

    That’s all really.

  • vn33

    When scammers win, all (honest) consumers lose !!
    Sad state of affairs !!

  • alfred

    Reminds me of the time I ordered an iPhone from Rogers and received an empty box. They didn’t even bother to put clay in those..ridiculous

  • Gunnar

    Hold on – what kind of clay are we talking about, here? Fimo? I think the clay might actually be more useful than the iPad.

    DOWN WITH TABLETS!

  • Charles in Vancouver

    I can’t believe nobody has made this joke yet.

    “I think my iPad 2 is bricked.”

  • abc123

    “…Customers don’t expect to receive this kind of product from Future Shop, so it’s a very serious matter…”

    So judging by what the article says, FS/BB accepted the returns and then went and put them back on the shelves and sold them again to unsuspecting customers. Then, the customer, having found a bag of iClay instead of an iPad, goes back to FS/BB to rectify the situation.

    I feel sorry for this customer for 2 reasons:
    1. Trying to explaining to FS/BB that what you found was clay in the box instead of an ipad.
    2. If they gifted this for Christmas, imagine the look when the recipient opens the box on Christmas morning only to find a bag of clay. Talk about losing face. It’s like an episode of Jimmy Kimmel when they got parents to wrap gifts like onions and toilet paper to give to kids just to see their reaction.

  • Netkid

    The Sony Store is diligent and checks even sealed products just to be safe.

  • Rocco StiffReddi

    Is this the new WIND tablet they are talking about?

    exit strategy. thats the new buzz word.

  • m1ndtr1p

    Well, the clay is more functional than the actual iPad 2.

  • itr0ll

    LOL futureshop guy shuns people for doing this to a 600$ device?

    If Apple didnt make such expensive products people wouldnt have to ‘stoop’. Futureshop guy is just pissed his company got duped so publicly, he prolly lost his post as manager.

  • Geeforson

    They’re not supposed to be selling returned merchandise unless it’s marked as “Refurb”, no? If it is marked, it’s a pretty obvious step to check before you leave the store to make sure you’re not getting ripped off. If it isn’t marked, then there’s even more problems here…

  • JP

    Rocco “The Rogers employee” LimpReddi always has to bring up WIND in any topic. He must really want to leave Rogers and work for WIND. Guess it sucks to be a custodial engineer at Rogers.

    • Rocco StiffReddi

      jp aka jerk & pull it was a joke much like wimd.

      Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabroni

  • hallway

    Okay, so, okay, what?

  • hallway

    ok, so, okay, what?

  • shaggyskunk

    Clay Aiken did it.

  • Plastic

    It’s funny how flash drive packaging is more secure than the ipad and transformer prime.

  • JP

    Rocco Limpreddi, mine was a joke too just like your gf!

    • Rocco StiffReddi

      awww jerky pull your mom said I was the real deal. You still playing dress up with your sister.. BTW she is sweeeeeet!

      I would call her but she is cheap like you and is on wind.. no signal..

      jaaaaaaaaaaaabroni

  • Big Ang

    Future Shop of Best Buy Employee “I’m sorry to hear that the iPad we sold you is only a piece of clay, however the super-expensive extended warranty we sold you doesn’t specifically cover this so there’s nothing we can do.”

  • aka

    What if the people that returned the iPad2 with clay actually were the ones that did the swap in the first place?

  • lol

    Just make clay $10000 dollars a pound.

    Problem solved

  • jazzi

    At least with the clay, you can plug a USB key or an SD Card into it… and you can pop a new battery into it and don’t have to use itunes.

    Clay sounds cool.

  • PeZzy

    Be aware that Big Box stores have been purchasing some of their stock from shady distributors. Fortunately they have a good return policy.