Thomas Stewart hoped to give his old phone new life by selling it online to Bewoop.com. It's a website claiming to buy and sell used electronics, but months later Stewart says the site never paid.
"It's only $16," said Stewart. "But it's just the fact that...if you were not going to pay me, can I have my property back?"
ABC7 put Bewoop to the test by selling a used Blackberry. We carefully packaged it, used the postage label they provided and dropped it in the mail. More than a month later, ABC7 is still waiting.
"I wouldn't do business with the company," said Edward Johnson, the president of D.C.'s Better Business Bureau. "I think that the 'F' rating should be seen as an alert and as a warning."
Among those the 44 complaints that led to Bewoop's F rating was Josh Oleszczuk from Towson. The phone he bought couldn't be activated because its previous owner reported it stolen.
"I was shocked, I was upset, I was angry," said Oleszczuk. "You just don't expect when you purchase something that it would have been stolen."
U.S. Postal inspectors are taking a hard look at the company. It's initiated an investigation, but have not contacted the victims or the subject at this time.
ABC7 tracked the company to Austin, Texas and a P.O. Box which traces back to Dan Jackson, the site's owner. He wouldn't answer the door, but he did send this statement to customers. "I would like to apologize to all of its customers who have been wronged. I simply got behind on personal payments and made some poor decisions with how orders were handled and neglected to take care of the customers.
"Effective immediately, I have indefinitely ceased accepting orders for trade-ins. I promise that every customer who has mailed an order in to Bewoop will be receiving their full payment.
"I am an honorable man, and I will make sure that every customer receives the payment that they were promised in the coming weeks."
Bewoop's website is essentially offline and is no longer accepting used electronics. In an email to ABC7 News on Thursday, Jackson wrote:"A number of customers have confirmed that they have indeed received payment for their orders. I am still working to send out payments as quickly as possible
"I looked into the order you sent, and an email should have been sent out on the 15th to update. The phone that was sent was a Blackberry Curve 9350 for Sprint, not an unlocked Blackberry 8520 as the order indicated. An adjusted payment of $23.89 will be sent out today."
ABC7 double checked our email and spam folders. We did not receive the update email Jackson mentioned, nor did we receive a response from our initial inquiries via phone and email on Feb. 21 about the phone we sent on Jan. 22.
We did confirm one payment to Mike Bandiera of Burbank, Calif. Bandiera says he finally got paid after four months and credits consumer reporting and publicity for his payment.
The complaint Oleszczuk filed with the Better Business Bureau was about a phone purchase in 2010. Bewoop did offer Oleszczuk an upgraded phone which he declined, and ultimately he did receive a full refund.
Jackson told us in an email: "This incident occurred more than two years ago, when it was very difficult to know if a phone that was sent in was stolen.
"Any phones that were confirmed reported stolen were turned over to the carrier. This is a problem faced by everyone in the cellphone buyback industry."