Missing iPhone Mystery Solved By Consumerist Readers In 55 Minutes

Wow, that was impressive! In less than one hour after we posted about Dino’s dad’s lost iPhone, Consumerist readers were able to locate his Facebook and Hi5 accounts, track down his name and home address, and even get him to respond via email—something Dino and his dad weren’t able to do yesterday. Dino just wrote us and said “Michael Smith/Emerson” contacted him and promised to return the phone tomorrow.
Update: the phone has been returned!

OMG you guys are the best. Guess what? The guy called and will give my dad his phone back tomorrow. He saw this blog and asked to take down the pictures. Thank you very much for your help. The power of the internet is amazing. I will take down his pics on Flickr. I am glad this guy is doing the right thing and returning lost property. Thank you very much Consumerist! You have made my dad’s day.

Dino adds, “He said he found it in a parking lot, which is probably what happened… possibly fell off a belt holster my dad uses.” But here’s something that’s more interesting, especially in light of the kid’s “I was going to return it” defense:

My dad also had a sticker on the back of the phone with his home phone number on it. But looks like the kid removed it before he took the self pics (something that someone who was going to return a phone from the get go wouldn’t have done).

Anyway thanks again for your help, i was telling my dad he’s famous now. But i’ll let you know once my dad get the phone back tomorrow.

(Photo: aka Kath)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ds143 says:

    great job!

  2. tedyc03 says:

    The power of social media, FTW.

  3. Xabora says:

    Hive Mind Detective Agency!

  4. shorty63136 says:

    AWESOME JOB, Consumerist readers!

    That entire post made my day! That guy was ROASTED!

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Lets get the phone back first!

    But aside from that, awesome!

  6. Broadcaster says:

    Awesomeness! A smart move on his part to return it.

  7. sebadoh128 says:

    Alright Consumerist, find my missing socks.

  8. YourTechSupport says:

    Damn. Too late for me to go home and make quick and dirty WANTED: DOUCHE OR ALIVE posters.

    Wait, I just thought up the perfect band name… *runs off*

  9. calquist says:

    I solve any mystery if Consumerist continues to post cute kitty pics.

  10. porcuPINE says:

    yay internet justice!!!

  11. rpm773 says:

    Now, soldiers, on to Moscow!

  12. Citron says:

    Fantastic! I’m glad to hear that.

  13. Skunky says:

    That is both very awesome, yet also kinda creepy. What do you guys know about me!? Who does number two work for!? Waaaaugh!

    *dons tin-foil hat*

  14. buffalo2001 says:

    Great! I am setting up Bcc now jik.

  15. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    You know, I still want to know why he was taking photos using the iPhone. That’s still somewhat of a douchey thing to do, even if you’re using your own WiFi to do it, cause the phone is obviously not yours (I’m going on that he found the iPhone because the OP specified his dad lost the phone, not that it was stolen). If I found someone’s phone I’d try to find contact info (which I guess isn’t possible here because the OP’s dad called AT&T to have the service stopped) but I wouldn’t take pics of myself with it and post them on the internet.

    • jessi5000 says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: all he had to do was look at the address book on the iphone and call the number for “home” or a similar entry on his own line.

      • mythago says:

        @jessi5000: Exactly. Normal, honest people would try to return the phone right away. The little assjack thought he had himself a free iPhone.

        Well done, Internets!

      • usa_gatekeeper says:

        @jessi5000: I did this a few years back while on vacation – found a phone, called someone on the directory who then contacted the party whose phone had been dropped – so then this latter party called me, came by and picked up the lost phone.

        It was worth it just to see the look of gratitude and relief.

  16. Trai_Dep says:

    “I am Consumerist. Hear me roooo-aarrh!

    “…Err, meow?”

  17. Razorgirl says:

    Forget the ‘Justice League of America’! This just proves the new reality is ‘Consumerist Trolls of the Interwebs’ are the new superheroes to be emulated.

  18. Kuonji says:


  19. morganlh85 says:

    Are you gonna turn him in to the fuzz?

  20. jmndos says:

    I’m pretty sure he just found the phone.
    Finding the phone isnt the same as stealing…..

    Usually it a 2 week wait should suffice and its yours…

    • Gizmosmonster says:

      i try to see the best in people too!

      even though he peeled the sticker off and he did not call
      perhaps he was just polishing it- before and after pics and all that good stuff

    • mythago says:

      @jmndos: I’ll look forward to seeing your photos on Flickr someday.

    • rickhamilton620 says:

      @jmndos: If you find it and obviously don’t try to return the phone, that’s stealing. Period.

    • shanchan says:

      Wrong. Most states have this or similar laws:
      “Theft of lost, mislaid property. A person who comes into control of property of another that the person knows or has good reason to know to have been lost, mislaid or delivered under a mistake as to the nature or amount of the property or the identity of the recipient, commits theft if, with intent to deprive the owner thereof, the person fails to take reasonable measures to restore the property to the owner.”

  21. ojzitro says:

    Kudos to all involved, very good effort. I’d buy you all a beer if I weren’t broke.

  22. Burgandy says:

    Douches can pose but they can’t hide from the consumerist readers! WTG everyone!

  23. David Markland says:

    I would seriously turn this guy into the cops, not for revenge, but so they can check to see if the guy has priors and/or if he may be responsible for other possible thefts.
    Whether he stole this or just “found it” and decided to snap some god awful, douchey pix of himself instead of possibly contacting Apple to track down the proper owner, dude is still a douche. Just look at the douchey pix!
    (and a warning, if you ever take pic of yourself with a faux hawk in a bathroom mirror, you too are a douche.)

    • hoofedblacky says:

      @David Markland: having worked for Apple, that is now how it is done, they won’t give out information of ANY kind, basically, if you find something that’s Apple branded, in their eyes, it’s yours until the cops say it’s stolen (even then, they have to go through Corporate)

  24. warf0x0r says:

    Conglaturation !!! You have completed a great game. And Prooved the justice of our culture. Now go and rest our heroes!

  25. Benny Gesserit says:

    Hive minds!

    Let the Cylons come. Let the Transformers attack. We say… MEH!

  26. Principia says:

    I wouldn’t be for taking down those pictures until you’ve got the iPhone back, intact, and have made sure the little weasel hasn’t done anything untoward with/to it.

  27. aka Bitter says:

    This reminds me of an odd incident that happened last summer…

    I ordered a vinyl storage shed which was backordered for several weeks. It arrived one day and upon unpacking, I found a Verizon cell phone, still powered on! The number was from CA(I live in NY), so I assume it must have dropped out of someone’s pocket at the factory.

    I returned the phone to my local VZW store and had to argue with the rep for a few minutes so they would take it. Hopefully that person got their phone back.

  28. WBrink says:

    @undefined: It’s kinda weird, but on forums like SomethingAwful- where you’d assume this stuff is encouraged- you’d actually get banned for it.

  29. HogwartsAlum says:

    The power of Consumerist compels you! The power of Consumerist compels you!

  30. LordofthePing says:

    The Consumerist should have its own ‘investigation unit’ like a lot of local TV stations do. How bout ‘The Consumerist Constables’?

  31. forgottenpassword says:

    dang it! I missed all the fun!!!!!

    I want to see the guy’s pics!

  32. Gizmosmonster says:

    I know it makes it unreturnable and pretty unresellable, but that is the point-

    I still stand behind engraving with Happy 65th Birthday Dad, and/or the word reward with a telephone number.

    stickers can be peeled, but a personalizing message and the chance of making some money on it for the finder is pure heaven.


    • mythago says:

      @Gizmosmonster: Ah yes, I can see the Consumerist posts now. “What kind of moron engraves his iPhone? You should have known that just because your iPhone turned out to be an old calculator glued inside an iPod shell, that AT&T would not accept a return once you engraved it. I would NEVER engrave MY iPhone.”

  33. Anonymous says:

    What an awesome experiment today. Too bad I found out people can find my address if I post iPhone photos on the web! How can I strip that info so some freak can’t track me down and kill me??!

  34. Gizmosmonster says:

    I found a $5000 high end camera sitting on a bench outside a starbucks in the Village in NYC in December. I knew the value because I had been lusting after this camera and lens since it was released recently.

    Despite the urging of EVERYONE at tables around me to keep it and run, I tried to find the owner inside, looked at the last few (excellent) pictures to see if I could identify the owner.

    In the No good deed goes unpunished, after waiting for an hour with the camera in my lap- (I would have been devastated if I lost my 1/10th the price XTi) a man came running up, snatched from me screaming- “that is MY CAMERA!!!” The strap was around my neck so I pitched forward onto the ice.

    I asked him to identify the last 2 subjects- Squirrels around the flatiron building and a yellow dog. He huffily replied animals. I handed it over without hearing even so much as a thanks. Which was all I wanted. Makes it hard to want to be helpful sometimes~

  35. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Wow, that cat needs its teeth filed down before it hurts someone.

  36. Corporate_guy says:

    He found it on the street, he had no obligation to give it back. Just be thankful he is willing to give it back.

  37. citrus538 says:


  38. polyeaster says:

    technically, don’t the pictures belong to the owner of the phone since they were taken without owner’s permission and on his phone, emailed using the owner’s paid-for data plan? Good thing the owner’s not a hardass…whatwould be funny would be if the thief had taken pics of himself or others unclothed…and they ended up on the internets:D

  39. MoebiusSK8 says:

    This happened to me at the dogpark. I had just drove off when I realized that I left my cell phone on a picnic table.

    I turned around and went back. I called the missing phone from my business cell and it rang in some guys pocket.

    He tried to silence it but I kept calling it, and finally confronted him. Got the phone back.

  40. FHJay says:

    Wasn’t around for this one, but great job Consumerist readers!

  41. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I guess Consumerist is our personal army.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I don’t have an iphone, so I do not know what the upload process entails. IF the person that has the iphone took pictures, did it automatically get posted to the owner’s facebook? How did the readers get an email address and contact info for the Micheal Smith Emerson? I’m confused.

  43. RandomHookup says:

    Too bad CR won’t let you generate revenue — might be a good business idea.

  44. StreamOfConsciousness says:

    What a great ending to this story!

  45. ZukeZuke says:

    This story is absolutely amazing! Good on ya Consumerist readers!!

  46. painfullyblunt says:

    we are borg. you will be assimilated.

  47. HurfDurf says:

    Ahh, I love the internet.