How Not to Get Scammed into Buying a Fake Wooden iPad

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The golden rule is that if you’re buying grey market products, always take the device out of the box to check it before you go home. The secondary golden rule is that you don’t buy from a dude who has a gold tooth in the middle of a McDonald’s parking lot. And that is the story of how one Ashley McDowell of Spartanburg, South Carolina ended up with a wooden iPad.

Ms. McDowell, age 22, met two men at the back of a McDonald’s. The two dudes explained to the girl that they had bought iPads in bulk, and wanted to sell them for $300 per device. She didn’t have $300—but she did have $180—so they agreed to give her one for the cash she had on her. Do you hear warning bells going off? I THINK SO.

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When she drove home, after not checking the device to make sure everything was legit, she opened the box to discover a plank of wood shaped like an iPad. The scammers had even taken the time to attach an Apple logo and replicas of iPad icons for several apps. And a Best Buy sales ticket, you know, as proof of purchase.

Police dusted the wooden iPad for fingerprints. Meanwhile, the subjects drove off in “a white Impala with no rims and no tint,” according to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office police report.

MORE: The Future of Toys Is…Apple’s iPad?

[via The Smoking Gun]

Erica Ho is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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