Trent only noticed the phone wasn’t his after he left the bar, when he asked staff at a pizza shop if he could charge it there.
Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images
A thief stole a man’s iPhone in a Manhattan bar by replacing it with a fake.
He thought the battery had died, and only realized it wasn’t his phone when he tried to charge it.
He said Apple was “incredibly unhelpful” when he sought assistance to regain access to his account.
Trent was out with friends one night in Manhattan in February 2021 when he realized that an audacious thief had swapped out his iPhone with a fake.
Trent, who requested to only go by his first name but whose identity is known to Insider, went out with friends for dinner and drinks. At one point, the 28-year-old checked his phone on the table and assumed the battery had died because it wouldn’t turn on.
On his way home, he stopped for pizza and asked the shop’s staff if he could charge his device there. “That’s when I noticed it wasn’t my phone,” Trent told Insider.
“I originally thought the pizza spot swapped my phone out, but according to the police, they were pretty familiar with the spot,” Trent said, adding that the police told him the owners “wouldn’t do something like that.”
Trent filed a police report, seen by Insider, thinking it was a simple theft. “It was much worse. They had my passcode to get into my phone, which then gave them access to my password manager, and then access to all my credit cards and banking info,” he said.
Trent suspects the thief watched him until they could copy his passcode before replacing his iPhone with a fake so quickly that he didn’t notice.
Trent told Insider that he suspects the thief got into his iPhone by observing him until seeing him enter his passcode. He suspects the thief then somehow took his iPhone XS out of its case without Trent noticing and replaced it with a fake.
He suspected that when his phone, which he had placed on the table, wasn’t within eyesight, the thief grabbed and swapped it within seconds.
He wasn’t able to access his Apple account after realizing what had happened. “They changed my passwords — I couldn’t access anything anymore,” Trent said. “They opened a credit card in my name, bought an iPad, drained my Venmo.”
The thief repeatedly tried to purchase iPads from Target stores in New York City.
Bank statements Insider reviewed showed a charge of $1,633 for an iPad and $229.68 taken from Trent’s Venmo account. Another charge showed the thief attempted to withdraw another $980.
Trent contacted Apple, hoping the company would help him change his password. The tech giant told him he had to wait until a day had passed since the thief requested a password reset, telling him the automated system only allowed one request every 24 hours. If Trent couldn’t change it the next day, Apple said he would have to wait another 27 days.
Despite being able to prove his identity to speed up the process, Trent said that Apple told him he “could be anyone” and therefore wouldn’t take any action. “It was incredibly frustrating, especially because the thieves had access to everything and I could see them opening up my messages before I even could,” he told Insider.
Almost two weeks after the theft, Trent finally regained access to his Apple account, but then realized that he needed to change all of his documents — including his passport and driver’s license — because the thief now had copies.
Earlier this year Insider, reported on Reyhan Ayas, whose iPhone was stolen in November and who also found Apple unhelpful in regaining access to her account. By the time her ordeal was over, whoever had stolen her phone had managed to take $10,000 out of her bank account.
Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment by Insider.
Have you been the victim of theft or have insight to share? Contact this reporter at email@example.com or on Twitter at @samtabahriti