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Blotter: Denton, UNT police investigating similar scams involving iPhone purchases

Both University of North Texas and Denton police are looking for suspects who reportedly have been buying iPhones using scam victims' money, according to authorities.

Most recently, on Sunday an 18-year-old woman said she didn't get the $500 she was promised after buying iPhones for a male suspect at Best Buy on South Loop 288. 

She said she initially found the suspect on Snapchat, a social media application that allows users to communicate through pictures and video. He had been advertising a quick way to make $500, according to Denton police spokesman Shane Kizer. 

She took him up on the offer because she had been trying to buy a car, Kizer said. 

The woman ended up meeting the man at a strip mall in the 1400 block of South Loop 288, where she got inside a car with him and two other men, Kizer said. From there, they drove to a nearby Verizon store and tried to buy phones in cash, but the store didn't accept cash payments, Kizer said. 

The woman and three men ended up at Best Buy. One of the men from the vehicle walked into the store with the suspect as they pretended to be a couple, Kizer said. 

The woman then set up a Verizon account at the suspect's direction, Kizer said. She also opened four installment loans on four iPhones, which are worth more than $1,000 each. 

Police said the man paid cash for the initial loan installments, totaling $537.19. He never opened the phones because he said they were gifts, Kizer said. 

The woman and three men then drove to an AT&T store, where an employee warned the woman about the ongoing scam. The suspects fled the store, Kizer said. It's unclear why they drove to another store. 

Last week, two men riding in a dark-colored Ford Mustang approached a student waiting at the University Union bus stop on the UNT campus.

The driver took the student to a local bank, where the student provided his bank card and personal identification number to the driver, according to a UNT crime alert. After the driver withdrew cash, he drove to an AT&T store and paid cash for two iPhones using an application the victim filled out, the alert said. 

The driver then took the student to a payday loan business and told the student to go inside and open a loan. The student went into the business, filled out the paperwork for the loan and gave the cash to the driver, who eventually drove the student back the Union about 7 p.m., police said. 

The student said he was never threatened and was given $50, police said. 

So far, no arrests have been made in either case. Police aren't certain whether the same suspects are connected to both reports, but UNT and Denton investigators are sharing information, according to UNT community relations Officer Kevin Crawford. 

Crawford said UNT investigators have identified a person of interest in their case. Meanwhile, he's asking students to stay cautious of entering strangers' cars, especially for "fast cash" schemes. 

"This can be partially due to taking advantage of situations," he said. "College students are always going to be looking for that easy-money opportunity."

Other reports

1700 block of Meadow Oak Drive — A 24-year-old woman said a suspect shot into her vehicle with a BB gun on Sunday night at an East Denton home.

Denton police officers responded to the call of a person with a gun about 10:30 p.m., but the suspect already had fled the scene.

Police didn't find out that the suspect used a BB gun until they arrived. The report did not specify whether they recovered the weapon. No arrests have been made.

2400 block of James Street — A 19-year-old Pizza Hut employee said he was robbed at gunpoint Sunday night during a delivery at a home in South Denton.

Police were dispatched to the home but didn't make any arrests at the time. It's unclear whether the suspect or suspects were home. It's also unclear what they allegedly stole from the employee.

Roundup

From 7 a.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Monday:

The Denton County Sheriff's Office handled 2,437 service and officer-initiated calls for the agencies it serves, and 99 people were booked into Denton County Jail.

Denton police handled 476 calls for service and made 31 arrests.

Denton firefighters handled 83 medical calls, five vehicles crashes and one building fire.