I bought an iPhone 5c from a guy in a bar. He said he was going to remove the device from his iCloud list, which he never did and it's been 3 weeks already. The phone is not blacklisted and I know the phone is not stolen.

How can I start using the phone and is there a way for me to remove the device from the other guy's iCloud account?

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    I hope you didn't pay cash. Call the fellow and remind him; he may have simply forgotten.
    – DopeGhoti
    Jan 9, 2014 at 19:58
  • possible duplicate of How can I bypass Activation Lock?
    – grg
    Jan 9, 2014 at 20:02
  • Let's leave this open - the linked question covers well the "you can't bypass the lock" - this can answer "so what next?" once anyone realizes they can't just jimmy the activation lock by restoring from iTunes.
    – bmike
    Jan 9, 2014 at 23:28

1 Answer 1


As other posts have mentioned - there is no known workaround to the lock and you will not be able to use that device until the account holding it locked releases the hold.

However, knowing that it's not stolen and having gotten the seller's word that they will unlock it - you do have a little leverage over the seller. You can identify them and hopefully you have some idea of their contact information.

Their Apple ID is likely their email address, so have you tried mustering as much kindness and sending a polite email reminding them how you are eager to make use of the phone they sold you. See if the phone will show you their Apple ID - unfortunately for you (and fortunately for people who have their phone stolen) - on most screens you can't get to the full text of the Apple ID without knowing the passcode.

If you've exhausted the gentle ways, you could try checking with a local lawyer to see if they in any way violated local laws for sale of goods under a false description. Your costs for a quick consult and how to take them to small claims court might result in eventual repayment of your costs and the purchase price.

The local police might also be able to think of ways to convince the seller to do the correct thing at this point.

It's hard to say, but you are really at the seller's mercy if you hand over money before verifying the phone is really unlocked and free of their hold. For others, this article has the steps Apple recommends before buying a used phone.

You could try appealing to them, but I would start locally rather than try to get Apple to break into someone's phone when they don't really know you or the seller.

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    Just of note that Apple Geniuses can reset the lock. Anyone bringing in their device will need to provide proof of ownership (not sure as to what that entails). For those accidentally locking their devices, Apple can help. For all others, they will require the original owner with them (in person).
    – user10355
    Jan 22, 2014 at 8:01
  • @cksum Thanks for that! I was hoping that some process would be rolled out to bypass this lock similar to how Mac with firmware passwords can get reset by Authorized Service Providers (and the genius bar). Would you mind starting that thought on this thread since this would be a way to bypass Activation Lock. apple.stackexchange.com/questions/114985/…
    – bmike
    Feb 11, 2014 at 19:23

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