An overnight camp out for the new iPhone turned chaotic on Friday morning, when a man's plan to hire homeless people to wait in line for the coveted devices backfired, authorities said.
Dozens of people recruited at a downtown Los Angeles homeless shelter to buy iPhones at a Pasadena store were left unpaid.
They mobbed the man who had hired them, Pasadena police Lieutenant Jason Clawson told AP.
One of the homeless men was placed on a 72-hour mental-health hold after running into the street in an enraged state, Lt Clawson said.
TV news footage showed police breaking up several scuffles and calming down furious customers.
Mr Dominoe Moody, 43, told the Los Angeles Times he was driven about 16km or so to Pasadena from Los Angeles with several vanloads of people to wait in line overnight.
Mr Moody was promised US$40 (S$50) and food, but said he wasn't paid.
After Mr Moody handed the man an iPhone, the man was escorted away by police when people became angry with him.
"It didn't go right. I stood out here all night," Mr Moody told the newspaper, adding that he has no way to get back to Los Angeles.
The would-be entrepreneur, whose name was not released, was clutching a bag stuffed with iPhones when he was escorted into a police cruiser and driven away at around 9.30am.
The man did nothing illegal, and police were not investigating the incident, Lt Clawson said.