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Victims being lured through Facebook
The convenience of using Facebook to purchase items is becoming dangerous and Southern Division police are warning of a criminal network, which lures prospective customers to lonely areas with the intent of robbing them at gunpoint.
Already 12 victims have fallen prey to the Facebook ruse this year and were left traumatised after being robbed of thousands of dollars at gunpoint. Within the last week, eight people have been robbed in four incidents where they responded to a Facebook advertisement by Ken Browne, whom police described as a fictitious user.
Investigators said that Browne would advertise a Nissan Sunny B-13 for sale in the Rambert Village, La Romaine area. So far, those who have been robbed were not from the San Fernando area so they had contacted Browne by phone for directions. They would be directed to dead-end streets where gunmen would emerge from the bushes and steal the money they came with for the purchase of the car.
A team of San Fernando CID detectives has been assigned to investigate the network and two suspects who were arrested a month ago are still being probed for their connection to the recent crimes. CID Insp Don Gajadhar said that the police would not tell citizens to stop responding to Facebook advertisements as there were many genuine sales opportunities available.
However, he said users should take precautions when acting upon an offer which seems too good to be true. Gajadhar said that users making contact with sellers should request that the transaction is done near the San Fernando or Mon Repos police stations. He said if the seller is legitimate, he or she would have no problem conducting business near the station.
“If they refuse, that should raise a red flag and suggest that something is wrong. The police continue to warn people about buying items that are advertised on Facebook because more than 10 people have been robbed in a similar fashion where they had responded to items for sale in the La Romaine area. When they respond, they are being robbed at gunpoint.
But even sellers are being robbed by prospective buyers. Two weeks ago, two people, who sell mobile phones through Facebook advertising were also robbed. The victims went to the C3 Centre in Ste Madeleine to conduct a sale and were robbed at gunpoint by the buyers. While the victims were violating a rule of C3 Centre, which states that there should be no soliciting on the compound, it remains a serious crime as $33,000 in phones and accessories were stolen.
Gajadhar warned that while robbery seems to be the intention of the criminal network, he warned that buyers and sellers also risk being lured into lonely areas where they can be raped or even murdered.
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