An anonymous source has revealed that it was Apple, not police, who first traced the person who found its iPhone 4G prototype in a bar and sold it to Gizmodo for $5,000.
The claims were made in technology magazine Wired's Threat Level blog.
According to the report, Apple traced the individual, described as a 'college-age man', to his address using the phone.
People identifying themselves as representatives of the company arrived at the man's home last week asking his whereabouts and requesting permission to search the premises, but were refused entry by the man's room-mate.
The story's unspecified source said that the man had made no secret of finding the phone, flaunting it in front of neighbours and friends. No one who saw it was sure that the model was an unreleased prototype, said the source.
The source also claimed that the man tried to identify the Apple phone's owner, searching alphabetically on Facebook. We can only assume he started from 'Z' rather than 'A', as he gave up before managing to get hold of the company.
Eventually, said the source, he "gave" the phone to Gizmodo in return for $5,000 and the promise that the phone would be returned to its rightful owner.
The source is quoted as saying that the person who took the phone simply wanted to get the phone back it to its owner, and Gizmodo had promised to do just that – just as soon as it had plastered the thing over the Internet and earned itself a few million hits.