Image: CTV screenshot

We’ve written about instances in which unsuspecting women hoping to score iPads on the cheap instead got junk. You know the risk you run when you decide to buy high-value gadgets from some guy’s trunk in a parking lot.

But the latest story of fake iPad purchase could happen to anybody. At least 10 customers bought iPad 2s in sealed boxes from big-box electronic stores that turned out to contain slabs of clays. How did this happen? TechCrunch explains.

The popular theory right now is that scammer purchased the iPads and replaced the units with a block of clay weighing the same as the iPad. The person than re-wrapped the iPad in retail-grade cellophane and returned it to the store as an unopened item, effectively circumventing any return policy. The scammer likely had to employ a bit of social engineering too as most stores log the customer’s ID on large returns. From there, the retailers simply returned the units to the shelves to be sold to unsuspecting customers. Of course once these customers started showing up at the retailers, the stores responded with suspicion and bewilderment. At first the customers were turned away with the stores claiming they were the scammers. But after a bit of persisting, the stores recanted and refunded the purchase amount, and at least in one case, also gave the customer a free tablet to compensate for the hassle.

Best Buy and Future Shop have launched investigations into the scam. Now you know: Don’t buy iPads from parking lots or big-box stores.

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