ST. LOUIS — A woman and three people with her, including a 4-year-old little girl were robbed at gunpoint while trying to buy a car from someone she met on Facebook on Saturday afternoon.
Police say, the victim, a 35-year-old woman met a man on Facebook Marketplace, looking to purchase a Nissan Sentra. The woman agreed to meet the man at a location in the 5600 block of Terry.
After arriving, the man along with another male approached the woman and forcibly took her purse. The second man took out a handgun and proceeded to point it another woman who is was in the victim's car. The armed suspect pulled the woman out of the car and struck her with the handgun in her upper back.
The suspects then fled the scene in the Nissan sedan, which was the subject of the fake sale, and the women attempted to follow the suspects in their car.
It was at this time, that police say a third suspect who was seated in the left rear passenger seat, began firing rounds from the window of the Nissan in the direction of the victims’ vehicle.
At this time, no arrests have been made, and police an investigation is underway.
What is Facebook Marketplace?
Facebook introduced the Marketplace in October 2016, and by May 2017, more than 18 million items were listed for sale in the U.S. alone.
This is not the first time we've reported on the website being used to bait victims.
According the Experion.com here are five suggestions for ensuring your Facebook Marketplace experience is a good and secure one:
- Use a credit card or secure electronic payment service for all transactions. The Marketplace doesn't have any built-in payment mechanism, so you have to arrange payments directly with the other party in a transaction. Unscrupulous sellers may insist on cash, gift cards, or other untraceable payment methods, and shady buyers may offer gift cards that turn out to be worthless. Card issuers and payment processors such as PayPal—but not its sister app Venmo—will investigate fraud claims on your behalf as a buyer, and they also provide better transaction security for sellers. Reputable Marketplace traders will welcome the use of secure services; which benefits legit buyers and sellers alike.
- Avoid transactions that don't involve local buyers/sellers. In theory, Facebook will only show you potential buyers and sellers within your area. (You can choose a radius as small as two miles or as wide 100 miles, but the default is 40 miles.) If a seller tells you they'll have an item shipped from a greater distance away, there's a possibility the order will never arrive, or that it won't be what was promised. And if a buyer asks you to ship an item long-distance, especially internationally, consider steering clear: The scam there is for the buyer to cancel the payment once the item is in transit and irretrievable by you.
- Check out buyer/seller profiles. When you click on an item that's offered for sale, check the seller's profile under "seller information." Make sure they're located in your area and check Facebook to see if you have mutual friends. If they've only been on Facebook for a short time, or if they have very few friends, that could be a warning sign. Also, search on their name in Facebook; if you see more than one profile using the same name and photo, that should raise a red flag.
- Inspect before making payment. If you're purchasing an item, make sure you can "see the goods" before you authorize payment. If the item is jewelry or collectible, bring along an expert who can verify its value. If it's electronic, plug it in or add batteries to make sure it works.
- Meet the buyer/seller in a public place. Some police departments allow folks to meet in their station lobbies or parking lots to finalize exchanges; barring that, pick a public spot like a coffee shop or restaurant. Bring a friend, and if you feel uncomfortable, record a video or take a few snaps of the exchange, so you can identify the other party easily if there are any disputes afterward.