Please don’t buy the foldable phone from Pablo Escobar’s brother. You’re almost certainly getting scammed.
Starting in February, a company from Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria has been dangling the promise of a $399 re-skinned Samsung Galaxy Fold. In response, media outlets and high-profile YouTubers ate up the news, covering the product as an amusing novelty. After all, who wouldn’t want a $1,980 product for a fraction of the price?
Well, it’s months later, and dozens of would-be customers, who forked over real money to own the illusive “Escobar Fold 2” product, say their orders never arrived.
“I think a lot of people genuinely bought this thinking it was guaranteed,” said one customer named Peter, who continues to wait for his phone.
The Escobar Fold 2, which is a Galaxy Fold covered in some gold foil.
The phone was supposed to arrive in March, according to Roberto’s company, Escobar Inc. The reason: The company claimed it was busy buying leftover Galaxy Fold units in China to sell to consumers at lower prices.
“There are huge, huge amounts of Fold 2 telephones available to us for purchase at a very low cost in Shenzhen, Mainland China,” CEO Olof Gustafsson told PCMag in February. “Our delivery partners have confirmed our access to easily over 200,000 units at an incredible per unit cost.”
Gustafsson said all this, despite evidence his business was a sham. Supply chain analysts also told PCMag it likely costs Samsung $650 to $675 to manufacture a single Galaxy Fold — which is significantly more than the $399 price Escobar Inc. has been advertising.
March has now passed, and to this day PCMag receives occasional emails from upset customers, who say their order never arrived.
“I communicate with them, but they never reply to my query!” wrote one reader. “It’s a big scam!”
“They never answered back at all. (I) lost 500 dollars,” wrote another.
The first Escobar Fold 1, which is a re-skinned FlexPai phone from Royole.
Some of the same customers have been waiting for their orders since December, when Escobar Inc. introduced its first handset product: a re-skinned foldable phone from Chinese vendor Royole. Escobar Inc. was somehow offering it for only $349 when it’s normal retail price was $1,291.
“I believe I am SCAMMED,” wrote one reader named Isaac, who supplied a copy of his order receipt from Dec. 9. “I contacted them more than five times, but no more response from them.”
To try and gauge how many customers may have been swindled, we took to Facebook, where there’s a group of Escobar Inc. customers who regularly post updates on their phone orders, and their attempts to get refunds. In a poll held by PCMag, over 70 members say they never received their orders from the company.
But that doesn’t mean no one received a phone from Escobar Inc. In February, the company distributed several re-skinned Galaxy Fold units to a number of high-profile YouTubers. And in return, the coverage attracted millions of views, translating into potential sales for Escobar Inc.
YouTube channel Unbox Therapy did a video on the device, which raked in more than 3.1 million views.
Some of the same coverage pointed out the sketchy nature of the phone sales, but that did not deter everyone. “I personally did go into this knowing it’s very unlikely that I would get the device,” said Peter, who asked that his last name be withheld. He learned of the Escobar foldable phone from news articles, and placed an order despite the risks.
“Well, there was always the possibility of getting it,” he said. “My main thoughts on it was one, it will make an interesting story and that if they send something it would make an interesting video.”
Indeed, the chance of owning a Galaxy Fold for such a low price may have motivated many customers to ignore the scam warnings. “A lot of purchasers behaved as gamblers,” said an admin of the Escobar Fold group on Facebook. “They supposed that at least one in 10 would have received it, so they placed orders.”
The admin, who declined to be named, said he only knows of four actual consumers who received the device from Escobar Inc., and posted evidence of the deliveries in YouTube videos and photos. However, the admin believes the company only made the deliveries as a “marketing ploy” to entice customers into placing an order.
Other buyers say they received nothing from Escobar Inc., save for a book that documents Roberto’s life, and his plan to take over the smartphone industry.
The book as shown by an upset customer who created escobarscam.com.
The book is also why many customers are convinced the whole business is a scam; it allows Escobar Inc. to use the book deliveries as proof, claiming the phone orders were sent out. The company can then manipulate its payment providers such as Stripe, CCBill, and banking company Klarna, into thinking the orders were successfully delivered to customers, triggering them to release the money orders to Escobar Inc.
We contacted all three payment providers, but none responded for comment. Nevertheless, all three companies have cut off ties with Escobar Inc., likely due to complaints from consumers, who’ve been demanding refunds. To process orders, Escobar Inc.’s website now only accepts direct wire transfers from a person’s bank account or cryptocurrency deposits.
It isn’t the first time the company has faced scam allegations. Last year, Escobar Inc. also began selling a $249 flamethrower to capitalize on a similar product from Elon Musk. However, a couple customers told PCMag they bought the flamethrower via PayPal only to never receive their orders. Instead, they merely received a certificate from Escobar Inc. indicating that their flamethrower was on the way.
The certificate Escobar Inc. sent regarding the flamethrower.
“Escobar Inc. actually used that tracked ‘certificate’ to state it was proof they had shipped the product. PayPal wouldn’t help and said go after your bank,” one customer told PCMag. PayPal has since shut down its accounts with Escobar Inc.
We tried to reach out to Escobar Inc. and CEO Olof Gustafsson. But despite repeated emails, the company has not responded. In the meantime, the company’s website remains up and is now available in more than a dozen different languages, including Arabic, Chinese and German. We advise you to stay away. As the old saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.