Philadelphia police have made three arrests in a series of gunpoint robberies linked to bogus Craigslist ads, but they continue to warn users of the web-based classified service to be wary of postings on Craigslist and other websites like it.
In other words, if a deal seems too good to be true, it’s probably not true.
For example, from late November to mid-December, someone posted an ad on Craigslist offering to sell an iPhone6, free of any service contract obligation, for $200. The devices typically sell for about three times that price or more, depending on the model.
At least seven times during that period, a would-be buyer contacted the seller through a telephone number listed on the ad. Each time, the seller directed the buyer to meet on or near the 5100 block of Duffield St. in Frankford. But the promised exchange never occurred. Instead, the would-be seller or sellers showed up with a gun and stole the buyer’s cash. No injuries were reported in any of the crimes.
Similar stick-ups occurred on Nov. 11 and 27, as well as Dec. 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. Evidence and witness information resulting from the latest incident led police to arrest Ahmir Moye, 21, of the 5000 block of Hawthorne St., and Donte Daye, 21, of the 4600 block of Penn St. on Dec. 17. Two days later, police arrested a third alleged conspirator, Michael Green, 22, of the 1600 block of Dyre St.
Moye has been charged with two of the seven robberies, while Daye has been charged with four and Green with one. Police continue to investigate possible links between the defendants and other similar crimes.
The case underscores the value of a longstanding program offered by the Philadelphia Police Department allowing citizens to use police stations around the city to buy and sell their personal items.
In a June 2013 post on the PhillyPolice.com blog, Sgt. Eric Gripp wrote “Craigslist, eBay and other online classifieds are a great way to move merchandise and perhaps make some extra cash. … However, any time you meet with a stranger — especially when money is involved — there are risks. While these risks can’t be eliminated, there are certain steps one can take to minimize them.”
Buyers and sellers are advised to bring a friend to any pre-arranged meeting, to meet in a public place, to accept only cash and to heed the warning “if it looks too good to be true …”
The same rules apply when using newer mobile phone apps like OfferUp or Wallapop.
The lobby at any police district station may be the best possible public place to meet. In the Northeast, police stations are at 2831 Levick St. (2nd/15th districts), 1701 Bowler St. (7th district) and Red Lion and Academy roads (8th district).
To report information about a Craigslist-style robbery, call Northeast Detectives at 215–686–3153. To report a crime in progress, dial 911. ••