Calgary, AB,

Think that’s a good deal for a phone? Think again!

A quick search of any online classified or auction site will provide you with hundreds of phones and other electronics for sale. Unfortunately, some of these phones are stolen from retailers and then find their way online to be sold to unsuspecting buyers.

The Calgary Police Service is asking citizens to practice safe internet transactions to help stop the demand for cell phones obtained through crime.

“Once again, we’ve noticed an uptick of robberies at cell phone retailers,” said Staff Sergeant Mark England with the Calgary Police Service. “The stolen cell phones are then posted for sale on various websites, usually for prices that are too good to be true.”

Tips for safer internet buy-sell experiences

There are several ways citizens can stay safe when using online sites to purchase goods:

  • Meet in a public place with many people around, such as a Calgary Police Service district office.
  • If possible, bring a friend or a family member.
  • When buying or selling, you should meet in-person to thoroughly inspect the product before exchanging funds.
  • Keep things local and in cash. Don’t use cheques or money wiring services.
  • Do not give out personal or banking information (e.g. social insurance number, bank account number or address).
  • Inform the buy/sell site of any attempted fraud or suspicious emails, ads, or other activity.
  • In the case of suspected fraud, file a police report.
  • Use common sense. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Specific to cell phones, buyers should ask the seller for the phone’s serial number or IMEI number. Every cell phone has a unique 15-digit IMEI number, which can be checked online at This free service will show whether the phone has been reported stolen or is blacklisted.

“We’re asking anyone who finds they have purchased a stolen phone or who have had their phone stolen to report the incident to police,” added Staff Sergeant England. “We want to stop the cycle of phones being stolen and resold.”