NYPD investigating string of robberies stemming from Facebook Marketplace sales

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024
NYPD investigating string of robberies tied to Facebook Marketplace
Joe Torres has the story in Chinatown on the robberies.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Police say two men are posing as car salesmen on Facebook Marketplace and then robbing potential buyers or sellers.

New York City police said Wednesday they have done it at least nine times in recent months across the Bronx and Queens.

The first incident was reported Dec. 29 and the most recent was reported on May 7.

The common denominator across all the robberies is the victims met the suspects after arranging to buy or sell a car on Facebook Marketplace.

Officials say the suspects used guns, metal bats and sticks with nails in them during the robberies.

In at least two instances they got away with $10,000 in cash from the victims and in other instances, the victims' cars or smaller amounts of cash were stolen.

Authorities say for anyone making an arrangement to buy or sell a car through Facebook Marketplace, the location should be public and safe -- such as a police precinct parking lot.

All 77 police precincts in the city have an e-commerce location specifically designed for buyers and sellers to meet and finalize an online transaction. For the safety of all involved, there is also a camera that monitors and records what happens.

"If you are doing a transaction with a person and there's a fear and if they don't want to go to a precinct, maybe you shouldn't do that transaction," said NYPD Community Affairs Commissioner Mark Stewart.

Chief Jason Savino said last year the NYPD saw 58 crimes of this type in the first five months of the year. That number has soared to 90 in the same timeframe this year.

Authorities say it is a growing "crime of opportunity" and that is why the publicity of the e-commerce locations is key -- along with other common sense tips.

"Do not carry any cash, try to use an online platform to conduct the transaction financially," said Capt. Spiro Papavlasopoulos with the NYPD Crime Prevention Division. "You might want to meet up here to conduct the transaction as far as giving the merchandise to another person."

Also watch out for red flags on Facebook itself -- in this instance, police said the profile picture of the seller didn't show his face and he only had one Facebook friend.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

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