A dangerous trend has emerged on Facebook’s Marketplace that involves tricking buyers into meeting and then robbing them at gunpoint.
One Michigan woman who said she fell victim to the scam is lucky to be alive after a potentially deadly encounter.
WLWT-TV, citing police, said a woman named Nijme Fardous answered an advertisement on the popular Facebook Marketplace for a used 2020 Ford Explorer, listed at $15,000 but four hours away from the vehicle’s location in Cincinnati.
After contacting the supposed seller, Fardous arranged a meeting and made the long drive for what appeared to be a deal too good to be true.
The meeting appeared to be a routine transaction until the alleged robber retrieved a gun from her boyfriend’s vehicle and demanded that Fardous hand over the $14,500 in cash she had on her person.
Fardous, who was with her parents, already had sent $500 to the seller, identified as 32-year-old Amanda Renn Griffin.
Fardous recalled how the robbery transpired.
“So, we go to the parking lot. I get into the truck with her, and we’re counting the money,” Fardous told WLWT.
According to police, Fardous said Griffin returned to her boyfriend’s vehicle, retrieved the firearm, and returned to the Explorer, where Fardous was sitting.
Fardous said Griffin then robbed her at gunpoint, demanding the cash and ordering her out of the vehicle.
Fardous said that’s when the seller sped away. “I just lost all my life savings,” she told WLWT.
“Police are searching for 32-year-old Amanda Renn Griffin after they say she robbed a woman $15,000 cash through a Facebook Marketplace car ad,” WLWT reporter Rachel Hirschheimer tweeted.
Police are searching for 32-year-old Amanda Renn Griffin after they say she robbed a woman $15,000 cash through a Facebook Marketplace car ad. pic.twitter.com/OQGgOZWIVx
— Rachel Hirschheimer (@rhirschheimer) December 3, 2022
Det. Charles Zopfi of the Cincinnati Police Department told WLWT that this doesn’t appear to be the first time Griffin has used the cheap-vehicle pricing scam to lure victims into a dangerous robbery situation.
“Researching through her Facebook account, I know of at least six to eight other individuals that were victimized,” Zopfi said.
Police said Griffin has multiple felony warrants outstanding — six in Ohio and one in Kentucky. Zopfi said she also goes by the name “Mandii Remii” on Facebook.
The detective added that buyers should be extra vigilant if they see a deal that seems too good to be true, such as a newer vehicle listed at tens of thousands below what it’s worth. He advised buyers to consider doing such transactions at the nearest police station.
“What we’re asking people to do whether you’re buying or selling, arrange with whoever you’re dealing with, to do the transaction at any police station. I don’t think there’s a police station in the state of Ohio that wouldn’t be willing to have you do it there,” Zopfi said.
The incident came on the heels of another Facebook Marketplace incident in Gambrills, Maryland, last month. According to WMAR-TV, two people met a potential buyer at a Starbucks parking lot to sell them a coat.
Upon meeting, the buyer brandished a handgun, took the coat and fled the scene, authorities said.
Anne Arundel County Police echoed Zopfi’s urging for buyers and sellers to meet at local police stations.
If you are going to buy/sell online, consider meeting your buyer/seller at one of our four district stations! Meeting a seller/buyer in person has become increasingly common; however it can also be dangerous. All stations are monitored 24/7 by video surveillance. pic.twitter.com/aFuasK2BFt
— Anne Arundel County Police Department (@AACOPD) November 29, 2022
“If you are going to buy/sell online, consider meeting your buyer/seller at one of our four district stations!” the department tweeted. “Meeting a seller/buyer in person has become increasingly common; however it can also be dangerous. All stations are monitored 24/7 by video surveillance.”
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