Irvine Police detectives say they got Luther Clayborn Dawson Jr.'s number, arresting the San Marcos 41-year-old Monday for allegedly using craigslist to find iPhone buyers who later discovered the iPhone boxes only contained owner manuals and rectangular pieces of ceramic tile. Police Lt. Julia Engen, the department spokeswoman, says investigators used information from three burned buyers to set up a transaction through craigslist with Dawson. But they discovered after arriving early to scout the area that Dawson was already pulling the scam on a different mark, Engen said.
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After an unsuspecting Irvine man thought he had just purchased iPhones, the detectives swooped in and immediately asked him to open the boxes. To his surprise, no phones were inside. Dawson was quickly taken into custody without incident, and the money was returned to what could have been the fourth known victim of the scam.
Irvine Police were notified Jan. 17 by another Irvine man who believed he was purchasing three iPhones from Dawson, Engen said. He did not realize he'd been stung until the salesman was driving off in a black, 2006 Range Rover with no license plates, the spokeswoman noted.
Two similar phony phone sales were reported Jan. 19 in Garden Grove and Fountain Valley. Like the Irvine victims, each had responded to craigslist ads and was left with rectangular shaped pieces of tile sealed inside iPhone boxes with professional looking shrink wrap, Engen said.
Police fear there may be others. Anyone who believes they've been scammed or has information that can help investigators is asked to call Detective Alex Kim at 949.724.7199 or email email@example.com.