They used the Letgo mobile app to sell what they billed as sealed boxes of Apple iPhone 8 cellphones, authorities said.
But, Suffolk County police said, the boxes contained only rice — which is why three people, two of them teens, were charged with crimes related to what police described as an ongoing scam.
Police said that after receiving several complaints about fraudulent sales, First Precinct Crime Section officers conducted an undercover operation, agreeing to meet a person offering to sell the phone Monday afternoon at a McDonald’s on Deer Park Avenue in North Babylon. Arrangements for the meet were made through Letgo, police said. Letgo is an app for local buying and selling.
The teen from Brooklyn arranged to sell two Apple iPhones at the McDonald’s for $1,000. Officers agreed to purchase one of the iPhones 8 and afterward opened the sealed package, finding just “a package of rice” wrapped in foil, police said.
Later that night, the teen sold another supposed iPhone that was actually a sealed box of rice to a different victim for $300, police said.
Officers then arrested the teen, whose identity was not released. Police arrested two alleged accomplices they found at 1:50 p.m. in a nearby vehicle — Ramel Parker, 22, of Islip, and a 17-year-old from West Babylon.
During the arrests, officers recovered three iPhone boxes containing rice and foil, a bag of rice, an industrial sealer, a heat gun, a roll of clear plastic wrap, baggies and a box of foil.
Parker was charged with petty larceny, possession of burglar’s tools, criminal possession of marijuana and second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Police said he also had an outstanding warrant from New York City.
The West Babylon teen, whom police did not name, was charged with petty larceny, possession of burglar’s tools and criminal possession of marijuana, authorities said.
The 17-year-old from Brooklyn was charged with two counts of petty larceny, possession of burglar’s tools, scheme to defraud and resisting arrest.
Parker was held on bail of $500 bond or $250 cash at his arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip. The Brooklyn teen was scheduled for arraignment Tuesday in First District Court in Central Islip.
Police said the West Babylon teen was released on bail.
Police asked that anyone who might have been a victim of this scam — or similar scams — to call First Precinct Crime Section officers at 631-854-8126. All calls will remain confidential.