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I've been to a concert three weeks ago and found a Moto G5S Plus there.

I've waited for the owner to call - but they didn't.

The phone is not so locked. It has a (stock) screen lock, but it doesn't seem to be encrypted - I can reboot it and the apps start.

All I can see in the lock screen are app notifications, but with their content hidden.

I managed to check that there's a Google Play Services notification stating the Google account of the owner, but I've sent an email there without reply. My guess is they've just created the Google account for the phone, but use a different email address (if they check any, at all).

I see WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Behance, Messages & Uber notifications (there may be some others, I don't recall right now), but with their content hidden.

How can I unlock the phone to be able to access WhatsApp/Messages/Contacts to contact someone who can contact me with the owner?

I've tried calling their service provider, but they weren't able to find the IMEI on their users database. They've suggested me on the phone to try going to an actual store since they may have better info, but I didn't have the chance yet.

The phone doesn't have an SD card - so no luck trying to get something out of there.

There are no Emergency contacts set up.

I can access the camera without unlocking the phone. That allowed me to take a picture to a message stating a way to contact me, just in case there was any cloud backup setup - but I have not been contacted yet.

I was able to connect to a WiFi using the Camera to read a QR code. I wasn't able to connect to a password-protected WiFi network via the WiFi menu, but I could using the QR code. May there be any other QR action that I could exploit to help me?

It's a Movistar phone, from Argentina, if that makes any difference - but I'm expecting any workaround at the phone/OS level.

From the recovery mode, I could get the Android version is 8.1.0/OPS28.65-36-14/63857. It also says motorola/sanders_retail/sanders, if that helps.

I've just found in HIBP that the user e-mail was part of the Canva breach - but I couldn't find the actual leaked data on a really quick Google search.

Connecting via USB, adb devices won't show it. I managed to get fastboot devices to list the phone when I reboot it and stay at the bootloader - but I haven't found how that may help.

I also tried putting a working SIM card in the phone and calling it from another phone. The idea was to use the conference call option to try to access the phone's contact list. Even though the phone said it had cellular signal, the call didn't make it - so it may already be blocked at the telco level.

I'd appreciate any suggestions to try.

(Just in case: I really want to return it back to the owner. If I was trying to keep it for myself, I'd just factory reset it and call it a day. I also don't intend to violate their privacy - just to contact them)

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  • Was worth a try. Thanks for being that thorough; might be worth summing al up for the tag wiki later (or for an answer here we can link to from the tag wiki; I think of the lost-phone tag wiki in this context).
    – Izzy
    Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 22:44
  • i have done this one times, but it took me days and turned out the girl already buyed a new one. it was a 4 digit pin and she was not so happy that i had bruteforced it
    – alecxs
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 8:48
  • forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=3954855
    – alecxs
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 12:21
  • in case you do factory reset techeligible.com/2019/10/12/bypass-frp-moto-g5s-plus
    – alecxs
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 19:43
  • anyway it's time to set up our own emergency details - everbody who read this, just do it NOW :)
    – alecxs
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 18:42

3 Answers 3

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It is possible that some useful contacts are saved in the SIM card, so I suggest you insert that SIM card in an another phone to access those contacts and attempt to contact them.

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    I feel a bit stupid for having tried everything else but this. It worked. Hopefully "Mum" will help us return the phone. Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 15:28
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Just keep it online and make a note on your door/mailbox how one can reach you. Wait for the day the owner located the GPS position. if one can unlock the phone in front of you he/she qualified as verified owner

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  • reboot was basically bad idea, you can't unlock sim pin now owner can not call his own number anymore
    – alecxs
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 13:27
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    It didn't have phone service already by the time it ran out of battery (I forgot to charge it). So I have a SIM but I can't use it. And the show was in a city ~80kms away, so the owner may live on the next door, or in a different province. Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 17:45
  • can you connect to wifi? sometimes there exist some weird paths from emergency call screen > keyboard search button > talkback > settings (but i really don't know) you could create a guest wlan in your router where you leave a message as bssid name, and connect to this wifi ;) i know you did already send email so this makes less sense i.sstatic.net/FpNuO.png
    – alecxs
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 20:13
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    I can connect to WiFi, but it hasn't helped so far. I can try setting the SSID to something like "Call me at 555-5555", just in case. I don't think they check their Google account, but it's a nice try 👍 Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 20:20
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Summary: It sounds like you've done well more than expected of you, and should hand it off to the cell provider or other authorities. Not doing so might risk legal consequences.

How do you normally handle lost property in (I presume) Argentina?

Here in the US, for example, the concert venue often has a "lost and found" where you'd turn it in. And that's the first place the person who lost the phone would look. Beyond that, the cell carrier or the local police station. Again, those are places that someone who lost a phone might contact.

It sounds like you've gone above and beyond trying to find the owner. It's probably to late to give it to the concert venue, so I'd suggest just give it to the carrier (presumably even if they can't locate the owner immediately at the store, they'll hold it for a while and see if the owner contacts them). Which if the IMEI has already been blocked ("blocked at the telco level", as you put it), someone has already contacted them, presumably if you had turned in the phone immediately, it'd already be back with its owner.

I have no idea how naive that all sounds from Argentina; maybe it's obvious there that the store employee would just pocket the phone (I really don't know). But even if that's the case, there is another problem, for you:

I think your current approach risks getting you in trouble. Think of what it'd look like to a cop who for whatever reason doesn't like you: you took the phone from the venue, that looks an awful lot like stealing it. Now you're trying to break into a device you don't own, sounds like hacking... Will the cop believe you about trying to find the owner, or think that's just a story you're making up?

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  • Thanks for the suggestions. I wouldn't call those ideas "silly", but maybe "naive", yes. I've been to lots of concerts here, and I don't know what the official lost&found procedure is - I wouldn't trust giving someone a cellphone, and I probably wouldn't start by checking there if I lost mine. Regarding police, I don't think they would care, either (to help, nor to "prosecute" me). But thanks for the framing, anyway 👍 Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 7:00
  • @derobert nothing personal, just a lot of text basically about - how should i say - morally admonition? in germany police will laugh at you, they won't give back phone to owner. you created more problems (fear) mgarciaisaia wasn't aware before than help breaking the lockscreen ;)
    – alecxs
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 20:50
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    Although this answer doesn't address the question on a technical note, it does make a useful point with respect to the intent of the asker -- to help the owner find their device -- and suggests directions that can be taken. I think the answer does not warrant a downvote from a user just because the user's country has no sound rules/regulations with respect to lost & found property. For the record I am not criticizing any country. My own country has shitty R&R with respect to lost and found goods.
    – Firelord
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 21:09

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