A mother who went to have her cell phone fixed at Best Buy has spoken of her fury after a male employee copied racy photos of her to a CD before later inviting her to his home to collect them.
Last April, Sophia Ellison hired a Geek Squad employee in Fairfax, Virginia to transfer hundreds of photos, numbers and contacts to a newly purchased iPhone for her.
Instead, he copied them on to his own computer and demanded that she see him in person if she wanted to get them back.
‘I felt sick. I felt violated. I felt so embarrassed,’ Ms Ellison told WTOP after claiming the man had stolen her pictures.
Originally approaching the employee to get the cracked screen on her iPhone replaced before being told she was eligible for an upgrade, the employee identified only as George offered to buy her old iPhone off her for $60 out of pocket.
‘I said OK but everything will be wiped clean? And he said yeah, everything will be gone. And I said OK,’ she said.
When he returned to the counter an hour later, he allegedly told her that he had wiped everything clean from her old phone and handed her the cash for it straight from his wallet.
Flipping through her new phone, all her contacts were there.
‘I just assumed that all my pictures were going to be there too,’ she said.
It was a day later she realized all 900 of them, as well as some videos, were missing.
‘I’m a woman. I love to model. I’m not a model, but I love to model. I have some pretty racy photos of myself, for me,’ she said.
Adding to her horror, she says there was also a video on her phone recorded by her younger children – at the time without her knowledge she says – of them getting out of the shower.
‘I freaked out and I called them, freaked out,’ she said.
Asking to speak with a manager, a Geek Squad employee told her that there was not one available that day but after hearing her story and saying he had her information, they promised to have one of them call her back at their return.
When someone did call, however, she says it was the employee named George telling her to calm down and that he’d work on retrieving the photos for her himself.
‘A few days later,’ she recalled to WTOP in the office of her newly hired attorney, ‘he called back to tell me he’d made a CD at his house with all my photos, and when can I come get them. I could pick them up at his house.
‘And then that’s when I literally felt sick. I hung up the phone and felt exposed.
‘He called back to tell me he’d made a CD at his house with all my photos, and when can I come get them. I could pick them up at his house.’
Ms Ellison’s attorney is currently considering filing a civil suit on her behalf and she plans to involve the police.
Responding to her allegations, Best Buy provided WTOP with the following statement:
‘First and foremost, we apologize to this customer for an unfortunate experience caused by what appears to be rogue action against our code of conduct, specifically related to our trade-in program. We hope to restore her trust.
‘We can confirm that an employee at this store has been terminated for making a personal transaction with a customer while on duty at the store. We’re continuing our investigation and assure you that we will continue to act promptly to address any inappropriate employee behavior.’
The employee’s firing has done little to comfort Ms Ellison, however.
‘Every day I have to think about, “Hmm, I wonder where my face, where my body, where my children, where my memories are in this technology world,” and I can only imagine,’ she said.