Scammers Looking to Misuse Popular Mobile Classifieds Apps, Here’s What to Watch For

BLAKELY -- Millions of people are selling belongings they no longer need using cell phone apps like '"Letgo"' and '"OfferUp." And like other new ways to make money, this one has some fraudsters looking to rip you off.

Blakely police got two complaints this month about some people from out of state using the "Letgo" app, posing as buyers who are trying to cheat people with a deal that seems too good to be true.

Janet Rooney just moved to a neighborhood in Peckville so she could live closer to her adult daughter. A friend recommended she add the "Letgo" app to her cell phone so she could unload an old washing machine from her old home.

Even if you don't use them, you may have seen the "Letgo" app advertised on television. The app creates virtual garage sales on cell phones, allowing people to sell or buy unwanted possessions with the click of a key.

It took less than an hour for Rooney to find a taker for her old washing machine.

"The people came, a husband and wife, they took it out. I gave it to them for free and they texted me back that it actually worked."

So she got back on "Letgo" to sell some used furniture she didn't need and someone with a California area code called offering to buy a chair and a matching sofa for $100.

The buyer sent Rooney a check for $1,250 dollars, asking Rooney to wire all but $100 dollars to a mover in North Carolina who supposedly would drive to Lackawanna County, pick up the used furniture, and haul it to the west coast.

"$1,255 dollars for a $100 item. Yeah, there's all of these clues, I have all of these flags," Rooney said.

Mark Laporte is a contractor who recommended Rooney get the "Letgo" app. He says users should check references that come with the app.

"This way, you could go see their profiles, and I also check to see if they bought or sold anything," said Laporte.

Rooney found no references for whoever sent this check for the used furniture. But that person has been calling and texting frequently, wanting her to wire the money to North Carolina soon.

She contacted the person claiming he wanted the chair who hung up the phone.

The supposed buyer texted Rooney, claiming he had a cousin with the FBI and was going to have her arrested.

"Letgo" spokesman Jon Lowe emailed Newswatch 16 this response and advice to the app's users:

"Letgo's highest priority will always be the trust and safety of our users. That's why we've built things like in-app chat; user profiles, ratings and reviews; and account verification into the app. We also proactively share tips with users about how to buy and sell securely. Letgo's built for buying and selling locally - we always encourage users to complete transactions with cash and in person in a public place with other people around, like a coffee shop, shopping mall, grocery store or bank lobby. We advise users to trust their instincts. If anything raises a red flag - like a user making strange requests - find another buyer or seller.
"We use a combination of human and artificial intelligence to help moderate the marketplace. 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 might include removing items and/or permanently blocking a user, in extremely rare cases where it's necessary."

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