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iPhone stolen in NYC now in China, iCloud photos reveal

Like so many other iPhones, a Manhattan man's phone ended up overseas after it was taken.

As CBS New York's Tracee Carrasco explained, you won't believe how he discovered where it ended up.

Matt Stopera was scrolling through the photo stream on his iPhone last month when he saw hundreds of pictures that he didn't take.

"I was going through my photos and I was like, 'Oh my God, who is this person?'" Stopera said.

There were dozens of selfies in front of orange trees, storefronts, menus, fireworks, buildings, and other odd pictures.

"It was somewhere I knew in Asia, but I was like, 'What's going on?'" he said.

Stopera quickly realized the pictures were taken in China, on his iPhone that was stolen in January 2014. His stolen iPhone somehow made its way from the East Village across the world, and now he was getting a glimpse of the new owner.

"I signed into my iCloud -- who knows how the iCloud works anyway? No one knows. Sure enough, there was my phone online. My old phone from a year ago," he said.

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Pictures found on the iCloud from an iPhone stolen in the U.S. that wound up in China.
Matt Stopera

Experts say it's not uncommon for stolen or lost iPhones to make their way from the United States to countries overseas where demand for them is high.

"It goes into a network of black marketers who can organize to get these phones to places like China," iPhone expert Ivan Drucker said.

Drucker explained that if you don't notify your service provider and Apple right away, stolen and lost phones can easily be used.

"You have a phone signed into this iPhone account. It gets to China. It's still signed into his stuff, whoever winds up with it doesn't even know that it's signed into his iCloud account. They take pictures, they get uploaded to iCloud," Drucker said.

Many smartphones now have kill switches which allow owners to lock and make the phones useless if ever lost or stolen.

"It makes it possible for these phones to become valueless," Drucker said.

Stopera said it was entertaining to see the bizarre photos and that he learned a lesson about security.