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Clay iPads  (Source:
Stores like Walmart, Best Buy, Future Shop and London Drugs have all had cases where clay replaced iPad 2's during returns

Customers shopping for iPad 2's in certain Canadian stores are finding blocks of clay in their brand new boxes instead of Apple's popular iOS tablet.

Apple's iPad 2, which was released in March 2011, is a well sought-after item in the tablet market. No other tablets have been able to touch its popularity, whether it be Android-based, BlackBerry's PlayBook, HP's TouchPad, etc. In fact, iPads accounted for 97.2 percent of U.S. tablet traffic in August 2011.

Now, scam artists are taking advantage of the tablet's popularity by purchasing an iPad 2 from stores with cash, replacing the tablet with a block of clay, and returning it to the store for a full refund. The fraudulent iPad 2's are then placed back on the shelves for other unsuspecting customers to buy.

Stores like Walmart, Best Buy, Future Shop and London Drugs have all had cases where clay replaced iPad 2's during returns. According to CTV News, Best Buy and Future Shop had as many as 10 fake clay models resold to customers in their Metro Vancouver stores. London Drugs had four cases of clay models being resold while Walmart said it was investigating less than 10 cases.

Dayna Chabot was one of the unsuspecting customers who purchased a “clay” 32 GB iPad 2 at Walmart on January 5. She purchased it at the Langley store, south of Vancouver.

"It was all sealed properly and everything," said Chabot. "It was the shape of an iPad. They even had a piece of clay where the charger went and everything. Like, they knew what they were doing. I understood that it could have easily been us that did it and went back. But they were really good about it at Walmart. They were all just kind of baffled."

In response, Future Shop, Best Buy and London Drugs said they are all changing their return policies. The iPad 2 boxes will be opened right in front of the customers returning them to make sure the correct components are inside before offering a refund or putting the boxes back on the shelves.

Walmart, however, said it is not changing its return policy at this time. It called the scams "upsetting" and said it contacted the local police to investigate, but CTV News said local police knew nothing about the clay iPad 2s.

"It's really sad that people stoop to these low levels to take advantage of really hot sellers," said Elliott Chun, Future Shop spokesperson. "As you probably know, tablets were the number one touted gift items for the holidays this year."

Sources: Digital Journal, CTV News

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Wonder what would happen
By borismkv on 1/18/2012 11:14:26 AM , Rating: 5
If I bought an iPad 2, took it out, popped in a piece of clay, then went to walmart complaining that I opened it up and there was just this piece of clay there...

RE: Wonder what would happen
By Denigrate on 1/18/2012 11:17:24 AM , Rating: 4
That was my thought as well. How many of these returns for "clay inside" are the actual scams?

RE: Wonder what would happen
By geddarkstorm on 1/18/2012 11:57:34 AM , Rating: 5
A scam within a scam...

We gotta go deeper.

RE: Wonder what would happen
By Warren21 on 1/18/2012 10:08:02 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Wonder what would happen
By AntDX316 on 1/19/2012 12:14:09 AM , Rating: 2
wouldn't want to invest in a computer store because people could swap parts out and completely remove the internal parts without the owners knowing

RE: Wonder what would happen
By invidious on 1/18/2012 1:17:07 PM , Rating: 2
They have records of which serial numbers are "resold." if you were the first buyer then they would know you are lying and call the police. Pretty bad odds considering the vast majority of retail units are not a resale items.

RE: Wonder what would happen
By geddarkstorm on 1/18/2012 2:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
A scam within a scam...

We gotta go deeper.

RE: Wonder what would happen
By geddarkstorm on 1/18/2012 2:05:43 PM , Rating: 1
Oh dang it, silly internets and your posting errors. Apparently it's too busy protesting SOPA to work quite right, but this is a time where I certainly won't disagree with that!

RE: Wonder what would happen
By MrTeal on 1/18/2012 12:21:21 PM , Rating: 2

Then you'd be a thief. You'd probably get away with it, but you could probably just take one off the shelf, walk to the exit and then bolt without getting caught.

RE: Wonder what would happen
By kleinma on 1/18/2012 12:24:58 PM , Rating: 4
This isn't a new thing.. 15 years ago when I worked at CompUSA we would get modems and shit returned all the time that would have stacks of paper inside, or a digital camera box with a rock inside.

It is usually pretty easy to tell automated machine shrink wrap versus someone resealing a boxed product with their own shrink wrap and a heat gun. I think most of these would be caught at point of return in the first place if the customer service reps weren't total idiots, but that is what these stores get when they pay shit to their workers.

RE: Wonder what would happen
By Taft12 on 1/19/2012 1:55:42 PM , Rating: 2
This still happens every day at tech and non-tech retailers.

It's just getting picked up in the tech press today because it happens to be iPads. Nothing to see here.

RE: Wonder what would happen
By borismkv on 1/18/2012 3:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
Well, to be honest, I wouldn't want an iPad if it were free (except to sell it to someone else)...Was just kinda thinking about that. There are actually a lot of laws and company policies governing returns and whatnot for retail stores. For instance, a person could accuse someone at the company of replacing the electronics with chunks of clay and without any evidence to the contrary the store would, more often than not, be better off financially just giving the person the money for the return.

i'm sorry
By clhathat on 1/18/2012 11:49:01 AM , Rating: 5
but i fail to see the difference between an ipad and a block of clay

RE: i'm sorry
By kattanna on 1/18/2012 12:48:11 PM , Rating: 5
i can.. a block of clay can provide hours of fun


RE: i'm sorry
By B3an on 1/18/2012 12:54:45 PM , Rating: 3
Well the clay is more useful for a start.

RE: i'm sorry
By sprockkets on 1/18/2012 1:12:05 PM , Rating: 5
One can be used to teach, write with and draw on. The other one is an ipad.

RE: i'm sorry
By amanojaku on 1/18/2012 1:59:21 PM , Rating: 3
Well, they're much less likely to break when dropped, and scratches can be rubbed out.

And the scam artists will have an easier time redesigning the clay tablets when Apple inevitably sues them for making a slim, rectangular display with a touch interface that uses icons.

RE: i'm sorry
By ipay on 1/18/2012 3:55:05 PM , Rating: 5
A block of clay Vs iPad:
-more bang for the buck;
-have a bigger momentum;
-waterproof, fireproof, lavaproof;
-"you are holding it right" no matter what (aka "just works");
-it won't crash but can crash other things;
-more environment friendly;
-no Chinese worker was explored to do it;
-it increases national production;
-no charge needed after using it all day;

RE: i'm sorry
By clhathat on 1/18/2012 5:23:25 PM , Rating: 4
also don't forget, you can't recreate the scene from Ghost with an Ipad

RE: i'm sorry
By Aries1470 on 1/19/2012 12:25:56 PM , Rating: 2
-no Chinese worker was explored to do it;

-no Chinese worker was exploited to do it;

There, fixed it for you.

Unless for some reason, there is a reason to 'explore' a Chinese worker.

*Can be put in an oven with glazing to become water and fire proof.
*Can transform it in to any useable shape deemed Necessary.
*Can be used as a tradable item for generations to come.
*Can be made in to 'One of Kind'
*No 'mass production' as known for electronics (just unearthed and processed).
*Can be mixed with water and heat.


Wal-mart needs to stop being lazy....
By bigdawg1988 on 1/18/2012 11:26:27 AM , Rating: 3
This is nothing new. I remember 15 years ago when I worked at Wal-mart and someone got a refund on a car stereo. The refund department sent it back to be restocked, and it felt "funny" so i opened the box and there was a pair of old jeans wrapped around a brick inside. I took it back to returns and told them they really need to check the boxes "PER COMPANY POLICY". Wal-mart is trying to get the police involved when they should have just educated their employees better. Now they're just setting themselves up for more scammers claiming they got clay bricks instead of iPads in the future. That's what happens when you get lazy about following procedure.

RE: Wal-mart needs to stop being lazy....
By Dr of crap on 1/18/2012 12:33:48 PM , Rating: 2
Well you'd THINK they would at least look inside the box before doing the return!

But, I had my credit card stolen.
The theif went to Walmart and bought over $1600 of stuff. I'm guessing they didn't ask for ID. The guy probably tried for a few minutes to copy my signature and as long as it matched what was on the card everything must have been good - right? My credit card company called me and asked if my card was stolen. I didn't loose one cent. I'm guessing Walmart had to pay for this! It was on them to make sure this guy didn't have a stolen card!

RE: Wal-mart needs to stop being lazy....
By sprockkets on 1/18/2012 1:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
The bank eats it from what I understand.

Heck, when I exchanged a kindle due to the screen cracking so early, the Target person checked the serial number on the box to make sure it was the same as the device for like 3 minutes.

RE: Wal-mart needs to stop being lazy....
By Solandri on 1/18/2012 2:20:01 PM , Rating: 3
Walmart eats it. The bank issues a chargeback, whose net effect is that they don't pay Walmart for the fraudulent purchase. Walmart ends up losing the merchandise.

The way the credit card system is set up, it's the merchant's responsibility to verify that the person using the card is in fact the owner of the card. If the cardholder issues a chargeback, the only recourse the merchant has is to prove that it was in fact the cardholder who made the purchase.

The signature is usually the most common proof (merchant sends copy of the signed credit card receipt to bank, who compares it to the signature when you applied for the card). It's complicated though by a law making it illegal to require a credit card user to show their ID. The merchant can ask you to show your ID to confirm your name/signature/address, but if you refuse they cannot use that as grounds to deny the sale. So merchants do other things like cross-reference phone number and address.

There is a lot of room for improvement in this system, but it's hard to build up enough critical mass. Merchants have to accept your card for customers to want to use your card. Customers have to have the card for merchants to want to accept it. Discover is the only card which semi-succeeded, and that was because they used to be Sears' credit card. Right now the banks and credit card companies are sitting pretty, raking in money for transmitting a few bytes of data along wires, while the merchants eat the losses. So they have very little incentive to improve things.

By Just Tom on 1/19/2012 8:16:01 AM , Rating: 2
There is no national law prohibiting requesting/requiring ID for credit card purchases, although it is true in some states. The credit card companies themselves have rules that prohibit requiring ID for credit card purchases, so any merchant who does so is technically in violation of VISA/Mastercard/AMEX's rules. However, the merchant always has the right to not sell to the customer if it feels something is wrong; as long as the reason for such refusal to sell is not discrimatory they are perfectly free to say no sale.

RE: Wal-mart needs to stop being lazy....
By PrinceGaz on 1/19/2012 9:40:13 AM , Rating: 1
What about the PIN number you must enter these days when using credit/debit cards (I haven't used my signature to buy anything for years-- in fact the last time I used it at all was when I signed the back of a new card at home last year because they still want your signature on it even though it is never used now).

By Taft12 on 1/19/2012 1:58:35 PM , Rating: 3
There's plenty of places in the USA that still don't have chipcard tech on debit and credit cards.

They don't check the contents?
By tayb on 1/18/2012 12:18:41 PM , Rating: 2
WTF? Since when do places like Best Buy not check the box for contents. The last thing I bought and returned at Best Buy was the original PSP (yeah, that long ago) and when I returned it Best Buy busted it open and went through it like it was a freaking crime scene.

I know Walmart has always had a lazy return policy but I returned a PS3 to them about 4 years ago and they opened that box up and even tested the unit right in front of me to make sure it worked.

I guess because the iPads were re-sealed they concluded that they must just be brand new returns? No one thought about how easy it is to shrink wrap something?

RE: They don't check the contents?
By Arsynic on 1/18/12, Rating: 0
RE: They don't check the contents?
By HammerStrike on 1/18/2012 1:55:17 PM , Rating: 1
Sorry, but this is just a silly comment. First off, while customers (obviously) prefer new in the box as opposed to open, it is also illegal to sell a good claiming it is new if it has been opened. Secondly, if you read the article, the the thieves were careful to return them sealed in "like new" condition. Thirdly, (you may want to sit down as this may shock you), companies are in business for a variety of reasons, including to make money. This type of hoax has to represent a fraction of a percent of all "sealed" items that are returned to retail stores, so, by your argument, all retailers should open all product, even if it appears new-in-box, and automatically take a 10%-15% hit on the gear, as opposed to have to write off the extremely rare occurrences of fraud like this happening?

There is nothing greedy about processing returns in the most efficient and profitable way possible. It's not as if their return policy was designed to defraud the customer (all of whom were made whole and only suffered the mild inconvenience of having to go back to the store.) For you to suggest otherwise indicates you are either ignorant or have a bone to pick with the retail community.

RE: They don't check the contents?
By Arsynic on 1/18/2012 2:03:02 PM , Rating: 2
You missed my point. The thieves took advantage of Walmart because they knew that Walmart would not open a sealed product. Walmart doesn't open sealed products because they don't want to take the hit on having to sell it at a reduced price. It doesn't mean Walmart is bad or that their associates are lazy, but if something appears to be unopened, why take a hit on already razor thin margins and open it.

I'm not sure what side of the issue you think I'm on, but I'm taking an objective look at the problem.

RE: They don't check the contents?
By Solandri on 1/18/2012 2:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
That's why most manufacturers of tech products are sealing their boxes with a tamper-proof sticker. You have to cut or peel off this sticker to open the box, and there's basically no way to get a duplicate to put back on. In contrast, a shrink wrap machine is not that expensive for a fraudster to buy.

If iPad boxes don't have the tamper-proof stickers, that's something Walmart will have to take up with Apple. If they do have them, then this incident is just a failure of Walmart's hiring and training procedures.

By dark matter on 1/19/2012 5:58:24 AM , Rating: 1
If people are missing your point then it's "you" who isn't clear enough not "them".

I'm baffled
By masamasa on 1/18/2012 11:14:26 AM , Rating: 5
How did they manage to "claym" a refund?

By GotThumbs on 1/18/2012 1:46:39 PM , Rating: 2
I worked in an electronics store many years ago and ALL returns were thoroughly inspected to verify all the cables and the condition of the product before a return was processed.

If this story is in fact true...then whomever is responsible for the returns...especially returns amounting to hundreds of dollars....should be tossed.

Whats to say that Walmart, etc. employees aren't involved?

Any high ticket item is normally secured and verified before even being placed back on the shelf.

Dumb dumbs...

By Just Tom on 1/19/2012 8:19:14 AM , Rating: 2
Did you read the article? The stores had policies against opening the boxes. In fact Walmart is going to continue that policy. It is not the fault of whomever handles the returns but a direct result of corporate policy.

By rburnham on 1/19/2012 10:38:34 AM , Rating: 2
Any time I have returned electronics, the employee takes the item out of the box and looks it over. Especially at Walmart, where I returned a Zune that would not hold a charge. They took a good 30 minutes verifying that thing (apparently it was not coming up in their inventory) before finally giving me a refund.

Sounds like these stores that are getting scammed need to step up their return process a little bit.

RE: Lazy
By Aries1470 on 1/19/2012 12:49:13 PM , Rating: 2
You had an OPEN BOX PRODUCT. You can not compare (cr)Apples with Oranges.
One is an Opened Box (yours) and the other is a "Sealed Box" seemingly untouched and returned for a 'Change of Mind'.

Hope that clears things up for all you that have returned items. You have OPENED the box. They have every reason to inspect the items to make sure.
On a 'seemingly' sealed box, they would normally accept it "AS IS" .

p.s. Not directly directed at you only rburnham but to everyone that posted and mentioned they checked their returned item.

By dark matter on 1/19/2012 5:54:18 AM , Rating: 3
For copying their designs.

By Suntan on 1/18/2012 11:30:41 AM , Rating: 2
local police knew nothing about the clay iPad 2s.

Is this really surprising? What were they expecting:

Reporter - Have you heard anything about people putting clay into ipad boxes and returning them?

Policeman 1 - Yeah... Hold on a second (to policeman across the precinct office) Hey Jimmy, didn't you say you heard about them ipad boxes full a clay?

Policeman 2 - (Jimmy walking over) Yeah, sneaky old Frank-the-Hand was talkin 'bout some boxes of ipads he was boosting and swapping with clay when we brought him in for boxing his Old Lady's ears...


By rburnham on 1/19/2012 10:38:27 AM , Rating: 2
Any time I have returned electronics, the employee takes the item out of the box and looks it over. Especially at Walmart, where I returned a Zune that would not hold a charge. They took a good 30 minutes verifying that thing (apparently it was not coming up in their inventory) before finally giving me a refund.

Sounds like these stores that are getting scammed need to step up their return process a little bit.

no way!
By Argon18 on 1/20/2012 10:02:41 PM , Rating: 2
I bought a block of clay once, and found an iPad in the box instead. Can you believe it? Maybe I can arrange a trade with one of these people?

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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