Police in Lorain warn of social media robbers

LORAIN, Ohio  – It has become part of our everyday lives: posting and surfing on social media apps on our smart phones.

Lorain consumer Cassandra Shafer said, "I prefer convenience. So if it's right there, I need it and it's cheap, I will go and do it."

But making that quick and convenient transaction could make you a target.

Lorain police detectives are investigating three theft incidents over a four-week span.

The most recent started with someone using the app, “Letgo.”

The victim was advertising a cell phone she was trying to sell.

Detective Chris Colon says, "The suspect reached out to the victim through that Letgo app, but we believe provided a false name and picture on the app. And then once the victim showed up to do the purchase of the phone, a different person, two different suspects showed up."

Police say the suspects took off with the phone after brandishing a weapon. It’s still not clear if the gun was fake or real.

Just days before, there was another cell phone theft, with initial contact made on social media.

In that case, a suspect was arrested.

Shafer said, "You have to think of the person selling. You don't know them."

And that was the case for a woman from out-of-town.

She thought she was coming to purchase a cell phone she saw on the Lorain County garage sale app on Facebook.

Instead, she was robbed of $800 cash in an apartment complex parking lot.

"When they came out here, they met with the person, but instead of buying a phone, the victim was robbed from her wallet of the money,” said Colon.

Police say when planning a sale or purchase, choose a safe public place, like a police station parking lot, to make the transaction.

Investigators in Lorain don’t believe they are dealing with an organized crime ring; the suspects are described as juveniles looking to make a quick buck.

Shafer said, "If it was me, I would go hey, bring a friend, be safe. You don't know the people you're taking things from. If it's your friends on-line, half the time we have like 2-thousand friends and they're not even really your friends."

No one was hurt in any of the robberies.

A spokesman from the app “Letgo,” sent this statement to FOX 8.

“Nothing will ever be more important to us than the trust and safety of our users. That's why Letgo  includes things like user profiles, ratings and reviews, which are designed to let you see who you are chatting with and what others have said about them. We use a combination of human and artificial intelligence to help keep Letgo secure and we ask our user community to help us by flagging content or other users that raise concerns. When they do, we quickly take the appropriate action, which may include permanently blocking a user in extremely rare cases where it's necessary.

We also share tips with users. For example:

• Busy public places like coffee shops and bank lobbies are safe, convenient meeting spots.

•   Never give out personal financial information.

  • Use Letgo’s in-app chat feature to communicate with other users."