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Teen arrested for Facebook Marketplace scam. Here's how to stay safe

Investigators said they found numerous incidents in which phony Facebook accounts would post ads on Marketplace to lure and rob unsuspecting victims.
Teen arrested for Facebook Marketplace scam. Here's how to stay safe
Posted at 12:32 PM, Apr 08, 2024

Authorities are urging people who use Facebook Marketplace to be on alert after a New Jersey teenager was arrested for allegedly using the platform to lure and rob an unsuspecting victim.

The Moonachie Police Department said 18-year-old Yassine G. Rahi of Bayonne, New Jersey, was taken into custody last week and faces numerous charges in connection to a March 20 hit-and-run that left a 22-year-old unidentified  person with serious injuries. 

Authorities claim the victim responded to an ad posted by Rahi on Facebook Marketplace for a Playstation 5 gaming console. However, when the prospective buyer arrived to complete the transaction, Rahi allegedly robbed them of about $275 and hit them with his car as he sped away.

Prosecutors said an investigation led them to discover a pattern of various other Marketplace robberies in northern New Jersey that involved phony Facebook accounts selling Playstation 5 devices. But in each instance, when it came time for buyers to meet the seller, they were robbed.

As a result of the investigation, Rahi was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury, and unlawful taking. However, police said the investigation is still ongoing and it remains unclear whether Rahi has been linked to other reported Facebook Marketplace robberies in the area.

SEE MORE: Seller dodges Facebook Marketplace scam, only to fall into another

In the meantime, Bergen County prosecutor Mark Musella is urging people to take safe steps when meeting with strangers to buy or sell items. He said to be wary of questionable accounts online and always trust your gut.

“Whether or not you conduct an online transaction at a ‘Safe Exchange Zone,’ always meet in public, well-lit areas, and never meet a stranger alone. Trust your instincts — if something feels off or too good to be true, it likely is," Musella said in a statement. "Additionally, report any suspicious activity or encounters to your local police without delay. By remaining vigilant and taking necessary precautions, we can help safeguard ourselves and our communities.”

Other ways you can stay safe when conducting a Facebook Marketplace exchange include:

- Review the buyer or seller profile

- Consider delivery options

- Use online payment methods and avoid cash transactions

- Protect your privacy

- Be wary of gift card scams

- Watch out for counterfeit items

- Report the listing or person if you see signs of suspicious activity

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