Hey guys, My name is Brian and 3 years ago I played a part in the infamous leaking of the iPhone 4. A few people have suggested that I do an AMA, so here I am! This http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2010/04/brian-hogan.jpg is the picture of me that was circulated around the press, and this http://imgur.com/7hZTHED is a pic of me now.

Background story: When I was 21 I was at a bar pretty late at night with 2 friends. After the last call both of my friends went to the bathroom, as they left a random drunk guy came out, walked up to me, picked up the phone on the bar stool next to me, and said don't forget your phone! I told him it wasn't mine and I didn't know who it belonged to. Random drunk guy hands me the phone and tasks me with finding its owner. I ask around and cant figure out who it belongs to, and after my friends returned we left and walked home having intentions of figuring out who the phone belonged to and giving it back.

The next day I woke up and actually forgot that I had the phone at first, then went about trying to figure out who it belonged to. I checked Craigslist, then started looking at the actual phone for clues. First I noticed that the screen looked like it had a higher resolution than any iPhone I had seen, then that the case had plastic pieces/buttons in strange places. When I took the case off I found an iPhone with a flat back, flat edges, and a forward facing camera. There were two bar code stickers on the back, and there were a series of x's instead of a serial number. I was very curious/excited at this point, but I had no idea what I had.

Long story short, my friend Sage and I decided the phone was an Apple product, we decided to test and see the leverage that something like that had. First Sage contacted Apple to tell them that we think we might have it, and after they blew him off he started contacting different tech blogs to see if they wanted to meet in person and look at the phone (for money). The people at Gizmodo took us seriously, we met, and, they thought it was real too. About a month after that first meeting Gizmodo posted the article leaking the phone. There's obviously a lot more to the story but I'll get into the detail in my responses. I rarely talk about topic with people, but my conscience is clear, I'm over the embarrassment, and life's too short for some of the guilt I was placing upon myself about it. So fuck it, AMA.

Edit: formatting

Edit 2: Alright, I think this has ran its course. Thanks for the questions!

Comments: 581 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

barflyjar205 karma

Why not leave it with the bar management? That seems like the most appropriate thing you could have done. The owner would surely check there. People leave stuff at bars all the time.

bphone4_ama339 karma

Yeah I agree with you, I should have done that! I was 21, drunk, and I didn't think about that at the time however.

sampears162 karma

How much money did you make from the entire episode?

bphone4_ama278 karma

Gizmodo told me they would give me $5,000 for the story, and another $3,000 after it was confirmed by Apple to be real. They knew that there was no way in hell I was going to be able to ask for the $3,000 after the story aired, but I didn't. I ended up having to hire and expensive lawyer and had to pay him much much more than $5,000.

sampears234 karma

So Gizmodo ripped you off? What scumbags! Did it ever cross your mind to approach companies like Samsung or HTC to see if they were interested in buying the phone?

bphone4_ama219 karma

Yeah they did. It did, but shit was crazy and happening really fast, Hindsight is 20/20.

FartThrob34 karma

Am I left to assume that you were threatened with a lawsuit for accidentally finding this device?

bphone4_ama74 karma

The threat was/might still be looming of a civil suit, but I don't have anything they could sue me for.

Drizu131 karma

"The defendant unintentionally stumbled upon one of our prototypes due to the negligence of one of our employees. He deserves jail time."

MeInYourPocket87 karma

more like "he knowingly sold a device that clearly not belonged to him (=stolen). Due to its uniqueness at the time (prototype of the most awaited phone) we see the value of the stolen good at 8 million.. so we seek that as the damage.. he needs to pay that or do jail time for that value."

bphone4_ama79 karma

According to Apple the phone had no monetary value. According to the courts the phone was worth $250 which me and the other guy charged had to pay in the form of a $125 fine each.

ibetshewill100 karma

It is so fucking awesome to hear from you. Fuck gizmodo. When you first held the device and turned it on did you see ios fully? If yes, when did it selfwiped?

bphone4_ama94 karma

Yeah it was the whole ios! Basic iPhone keys with a few apps. When I plugged it into my computer it asked for a version of iTunes that didn't exist and it bricked at some point after that. I don't actually know why it bricked.

patricktlo71 karma

I've read somewhere that Apple used FindMyiPhone to erase everything, might be because of that!

That will be a story you will tell your grandkids! haha

fswmacguy26 karma

I would imagine all of the prototype devices have some sort of backdoor for a scenario like this.

bphone4_ama21 karma

Actually there was nothing like this at all. They had no idea where it was.

gloomswarm90 karma

I remember Gizmodo taking a LOT of heat for this; what do you think of the site as a whole and how they treated you during this ordeal?

bphone4_ama245 karma

Actually nothing happened to them. Jason Chen got his door knocked down during a police raid, but no criminal or civil charges were filed. My friend and I were the ones that took the heat. From my perspective Gizmodo took advantage of me.

thadbone72 karma

How did the ordeal affect your relationships with your friends/family?

bphone4_ama111 karma

It was extremely tough on my family, there were news vans in front of my house and we ended up staying at a hotel in the east bay for a week until they left. My name got out in the media because my girlfriend at the time made a Facebook post about it, which I asked her to delete, but the press found her and she couldn't deal with all the stress that followed and we broke up maybe 3 months after that.

lawrnk70 karma


bphone4_ama362 karma

It had flat edges. FLAT EDGES!

thadbone21 karma

Oh wow that's rough, I'm sorry. How long was it until you went back to your house?

bphone4_ama62 karma

All it all probably 3 weeks after the police first tracked me down. Turns out my room mate was talking to the cops the whole time, giving them everything they wanted to try and collect a reward. She took pictures of my things, wrote down conversations, and flat out lied about certain stuff so the cops could get the most damning case possible. She told them when I caught wind of what she was doing and they came to "talk." I went to my parents house and she told them where that too.

thadbone35 karma

Why would she do that? Was she mad at you, or was there some kind of reward?

bphone4_ama90 karma

There was no reward she was just so greedy she was willing to do it just for a chance at a reward. She has lots of sociopathic tendencies by my diagnoses.

HSimpson81866 karma

Who is your favorite Simpsons character?

bphone4_ama91 karma


nord9350 karma

How was the aftermath of the whole situation?

bphone4_ama127 karma

Legally, I was fined $125 dollars, had to do 40 hrs of community service, and go 1 year informal probation.

imq28 karma

Do you have a criminal record as a result of this? Why do good men get screwed, while dickheads like apple can do whatever they want.

bphone4_ama109 karma

I was charged with a misdemeanor misappropriation of lost property,which I had expunged after my informal probation was up. I think the outcome was pretty good considering I had a special task force after me who's sole purpose was to investigate high tech crime, and who Apple happend to be a board member of.

imq33 karma

So..was it harder to get a job? Considering your name is all over the internet?

bphone4_ama43 karma

No, my record is clean at this point, and I got a job after the incidence but before I was ever charged with anything.

ilovethatsong13 karma

what did the task force actually do? did they contact you directly? was it a government entity?

bphone4_ama59 karma

I only directly spoke to the head detective and other officers once, everything prior to that was through my room mate, and everything after that point was through my lawyer. They did confiscate all of my shit and never gave me my Cannon Rebel SLR back... dicks. Yeah they were public officers but they were part of a special tech crime fighting task force.

mactini44 karma

I don't understand, how come you got in so much trouble over this? It's mad!

bphone4_ama47 karma

Yeah it was a sensationalized story for sure! They wanted/needed a pound of flesh to show for the excitement.

mactini16 karma

But what was the 'crime' that you were actually fined/given community service for?

bphone4_ama43 karma

Misappropriation of lost property.

MrRelys39 karma

Why should you feel guilt if you did your best to contact the original owners and they turned you down?

I doubt most of us would have even done that...

bphone4_ama40 karma

Yeah I couldn't explain the guilt I felt, it was just sort of there, I knew I didn't maliciously do anything at all, but the huge media response was really embarrassing.Talking about it more made me realize that it was pointless.

Greaseddog22 karma

What would you have done differently, looking back at the entire thing now?

bphone4_ama32 karma

I would have done lots differently looking back now, but how does anyone know what do do in that situation, let alone the 21 year old version of myself. What would you have done if you thought you had an unreleased iPhone?

Mannn1221 karma

Would you consider changing to an android device?

Also do you still have it?

bphone4_ama115 karma

Haha yeah I'm a PC/Android guy now. I don't have it, Gizmodo asked to take it with them to examine more and then dissected the thing for proof, and used it stick it to Apple for their own gains. The people at Gizmodo/Gawker media took advantage of me IMO and they can suck it...IMO

Alphadog3325 karma

What other sites did you try contacting before Gizmodo? Also, for future people put in your situation, is there another tech site that you recommend contacting if they have valuable information to share?

Full disclosure: I write an anti-Gawker blog, so I might quote your second answer if you recommend an alternate site.

Edit: Changed wording of first question.

bphone4_ama15 karma

There was a few other, Engadget was the other one that showed some sort of interest, but they seemed shady. I don't really read that many tech blogs and I don't think my opinion is worth very much but I like Techcrunch.

Alphadog333 karma

Thanks for answering. I was trying to draw comparisons between your ordeal and what happened with Joe Muto (the Fox Mole), and I noticed that Gawker apparently paid for his legal defense. Did Gawker offer anything like that for your sake?

bphone4_ama3 karma

No, when the shit hit the fan I asked them to "step up to the plate for me" and they basically said F U and I never heard from them after that.

6aHour20 karma

Was the phone you found identical to the production model ?

bphone4_ama25 karma


chrysamere19 karma

Did you ever speak to Steve Jobs?

bphone4_ama82 karma

No, in hindsight I should have had him over for a nice bowl of fruit and a conversation. Plus a few pictures.

lostpatrol18 karma

Are you going to Ecuador with Mr. Snowden and other leakers?

bphone4_ama10 karma

Nope, already went to court about it.

go_lobos18 karma

Any word on what happened to the employee that lost the phone?

bphone4_ama53 karma

I found out two days ago that he got fired, but then rehired. I had always been under the impression that he wasn't fired, but in telling my story to another Apple employee on Sunday, he told me that he was fired because of it. I really felt bad when I heard that.

poortographer14 karma

What did you have to drink that night?

bphone4_ama26 karma

Too many sake bombs with a Dane. Danes can drink a lot.

Fishbread13 karma

Do you regret taking it?

bphone4_ama29 karma

Short answer is yes definitely. I also regret how I handled the situation from an early stage, I let it get completely out of my hands and into everyone else's.

ianf121713 karma

Hindsight being 20/20 and all, what would you have done differently if you could go back to the night you found the phone in the bar?

bphone4_ama33 karma

Give it to the bartender.

Lord_Osis_B_Havior10 karma

That sucks that you were trying to help a brother get his phone back and it turned out worse than expected. :(

bphone4_ama36 karma

Yeah I didn't handle it very well either, I gotta take responsibility for my part.

XDXMackX7 karma

How much were you trying to get from Apple? It is surprising they would just blow you off on something like this.

bphone4_ama28 karma

The call to Apple was in effort to give them the phone back, the person on the other line didn't know there was a prototype missing. I rushed through that part of the story but Apple was the first phone call.

Xager6 karma

Did apple ever directly contact you through this ordeal?

bphone4_ama4 karma


DJDB5 karma

So, did this event had any positive effect on your life (get a good job etc)?

bphone4_ama17 karma

Yeah it taught me to own up to my mistakes and gave me a shove in the right direction in my life. It made me want to take school more seriously and gave me the motivation to go get a good job and start investing in my future.

DASHLICKER19913 karma

I still use an iPhone 4! If you could LEAK me an iPhone 5 that would be COOL. If you KNOW WHAT I mean.
What's your flavourite colour?

bphone4_ama21 karma

Blue! As for the next iPhone, go to a bar where Apple employees hang out and buy everyone lots of drinks. Drunk employees seem to be the way to go.

DrStorm692 karma

Who did you go to court with if you said Apple never contacted you about the incident?

bphone4_ama3 karma

A criminal case as opposed to a civil case.

jetbass2 karma

You are an extremely lucky guy. I always wondered if any companies like Samsung wanted to buy the phone from you? Also what was your most memorable experience with the phone?

bphone4_ama13 karma

I have literally received no benefit from finding the phone, pretty much all bad things except a cool story. Part of the reason why I though what I was doing was ok was that my ex-girlfriend's sister's boyfriend worked at facebook, and he told me that there were whole divisions of companies like Samsung who wanted information like this.

ConvictedConvict2 karma

Was the phone locked?

bphone4_ama4 karma


Mattsterman2 karma

Did apple security come looking for you? I heard they do all of this illegal stuff, such as illegal searches and detainment's.

bphone4_ama5 karma

I'm sure they tried to find out as much about me as they could, but they never came looking for me. The detective that recomended charges against me was part of a task force that had Apple on the board, so they were involved for sure.

nosrslytho2 karma

Gourmet Haus Staudt, right?

bphone4_ama6 karma

Yeah, I loved that place but the one of the bartenders and one of the bouncers decided to refuse me service one night because of the whole thing. This being despite the fact that I probably made them thousands of dollars. They flaunt the fact that it happened there too. I could probably go back now but I don't want to.

mcrutch071 karma

What kind of phone do you have?

bphone4_ama14 karma


[deleted]-2 karma


bphone4_ama5 karma

Where the poop comes from?