GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Greenville Police have caught a man who they say used Facebook Marketplace to target his victims. They say he pretended to sell stuff only to steal his buyers money and leave them empty handed.
Police arrested Qutarquies Watts and charged him with several counts of strong armed robbery and one charge of autobreaking, in connection with incidents.
“People were using Facebook market in these instances and they were trying to purchase a phone or some type of electronic equipment, and the person would meet him and before they would exchange the phone it would just be him snatching the money from their hands and leaving,” said Sergeant Johnathan Bragg.
It’s something that makes Carrie Naas in Greenville glad that she never used Facebook Marketplace.
“You just don’t know who you’re going to be buying from and what the situation is going to be,” she said.
Instead, when she started out her Persian rug selling business, “Floored,” she began by using smaller, invite only selling sites where administrators vet the posts. Many are even based on the honor’s system, where the buyer leaves the item on the porch and the seller leaves the money.
“So really, you had to trust the people that you were selling to, and if that element isn’t there it can be really scary,” she said.
SAFE ZONES FOR SELLING/BUYING:
Sergeant Bragg says Watts lured the victims to meeting places he had picked, mainly the Jamestown Point Apartment Complex, or the Haywood Mall parking lot.
The point is, not every public meeting place is equal. Something like the Law Enforcement parking lot is much safer and a mall parking lot where it’s so big things can go easily un-noticed.
The City of Greer has even designated a “safe zone” in the Miller Street parking lot just outside the Greer Fire and Police departments. At that location there is a blue pole with an emergency call box that links directly to 911.
And gas stations like Quik Trip are teaming up with police departments (like the Charlotte P.D.) to offer a safe place for these transactions.
Naas, has since moved from online selling to the Cottage Grove Antique Market on Laurens Road.
“I’m so happy to be where I am and it feels much safer,” she said.
That’s a move that may not be possible for everyone, but as long as you look for the vetted sites like Fickle, Greenville EastSide Sell and Swap, and even eBay that have reviews and ratings systems, you have a better chance of selling to and buying from someone you can trust.