In a first-person story published on January 7, Yahoo! Finance writer Jennifer Rogers revealed that her backpack was stolen at the San Francisco Airport last December 21. "I alerted both American Airlines and the San Francisco Police Department. Neither seemed particularly hopeful that I'd see my stuff again," she wrote.
Rogers' iPhone was inside her stolen backpack. She shared, "At first I was hopeful that someone would turn in the bag, but I knew it was gone for good when one week later Apple's Find My Phone alerted me that my device was 7,200 miles away."
In this case, "7,200 miles away" from San Francisco happens to be Tanay, Rizal in the Philippines.
Rogers further disclosed, "I've tried to call (my phone). I've tried to text it. I've used Google Earth to find the street. Next, I called the Tanay Police Department and told them the location. The officer politely asked me if I could come over or if I had any relatives in the Philippines that might be able to come down to the station to help (sadly, I don't)."
Days later, Rogers saw the photos of the people who have her iPhone on her iCloud feed. Most of the photos featured a little boy. "I have no idea if these people had anything to do with stealing my phone or if they even knew it was stolen," Rogers noted.
After Rogers' story was shared on Facebook, a man commented, "Please PM me, Ms. Rogers. I just finished talking to [the people who have your phone] (via overseas call). I can vouch that they are good people. Your phone was sold to a family member in the U.S., after which it was sent as a gift to the boy in the picture. This family is totally innocent of any wrongdoing. Your phone is waiting to be shipped back to you. The people of Tanay are honest and hardworking, that I can assure you. Consider your problem solved."
Editors' Note (January 9, 2017): A screenshot of the Facebook exchange originally included in this story was deleted as requested by the parties involved.
Yahoo! Finance later added a note to Rogers' article. It revealed, "Yahoo! Finance was contacted by those in possession of the phone. This post has since been edited."
That said, the images of the photos that popped up on Rogers' feed have also since been removed in order to protect the subjects' privacy.
Lessons learned from this story: Don't buy anything from dubious sources and don't be in a hurry to jump to conclusions.