The release of Apple’s new iPhone on Friday caused a worldwide ruckus, but the melee in Los Angeles was particularly unique, ending with scores of homeless people being assualted by police officers.
Last Thursday several witnesses spotted groups of men driving around the city’s Skid Row shouting “Who wants to make some money?” The men had reportedly promised people who were homeless $40, cigarettes, and fast food if they agreed to wait in line overnight for the new iPhone 5S and 5C.
But after being driven to the Apple Store in Pasadena and waiting in line for hours, the people who were homeless realized they had been duped. The Los Angeles Times reports:
According to various accounts, the businessman — who refused to identify himself but said he planned to resell the phones overseas at a large profit — had arranged for the homeless people to be given vouchers enabling them to purchase phones.
“It’s not illegal,” the man, who lated identified himself only as “Bobby”, said in a brief interview with TV reporters. “I’m buying them at full retail price.”
He had not, however, given them money to actually buy the phones. So when the doors opened, the homeless flooded the store, but most of their vouchers appear to have been useless. A mad scramble ensued. The businessman managed to buy at least a handful of phones before the store told him he was done and ordered him out.
The man then declined to pay the homeless people whose vouchers were not used, witnesses and police said. An exhausted crowd erupted in anger.
Not only were the participants in “Bobby’s” scam not paid, but they were also left stranded at the Pasadena store.