A woman from Michigan lost her life savings after getting robbed at gunpoint by a woman who was supposed to sell her a car she found on one of the biggest online marketplaces, Facebook Marketplace.
Nijme Fardous said she got scammed out of her life savings. She told reporters that she was looking to buy a car and spotted a good one on Facebook Marketplace. She arranged to meet with the seller in person to buy the car, so she drove from Dearborn, Michigan, all the way to Cincinnati, Ohio with cash.
The car that caught her eye was a 2020 Ford Explorer, listed for $15,000 on Facebook Marketplace, which is way below the average market price for the vehicle.
For comparison, Car.com lists the starting price for a 2020 Ford Explorer at $32,000, and the price goes up to $58,000 for a 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum.
Fardous reportedly sent a $500 deposit to the seller, identified by police as 32-year-old Amanda Renn Griffin, before leaving for Cincinnati. That was her first mistake. She had the remaining $14,500 in cash.
Fardous and her parents traveled four hours from their home to the Ashland Avenue parking lot, but she said something didn’t feel right. The seller seemed to have arrived in the vehicle Fardous was supposed to be buying.
She put her gut feeling aside and went into the Ford truck where Griffin was. They started counting the rest of the money. At some point during the exchange, Griffin excused herself and entered her boyfriend’s car nearby. She came back to the Ford truck, and according to Fardous, that was when things escalated.
According to a police report, Fardous said Griffin pointed a gun at her head and told her to get out of the truck. As soon as she exited the car, Griffin and her boyfriend took off with the remaining $14,500 cash.
Charles Zopfi, a detective with the Cincinnati Police Department, warned people against falling for such scams.
According to Detective Zopfi, more and more people daily fall for online scams like the one that Griffin carried out. He said he looked through Griffin’s Facebook account and knows about eight people scammed and robbed of their hard-earned money by Griffin. He also said that she has another account on Facebook with the name “Mandii Remii.”
It is all there publicly on Facebook, but Griffin is still at large. Police identified the scam artist and said she is a wanted woman as she has six arrest warrants for felonies in Ohio and another in Kentucky.
Detective Zopfi advised anyone in Ohio who wants to buy or sell anything online to arrange to do the transaction with the other party at a police station for everyone’s safety and to avoid a robbery. The detective was optimistic that all police stations in the state would be willing to let such a transaction take place in the station.
A New York research firm found that Facebook Marketplace is the top online platform with the fastest-growing scams. The research found that scams in the forum grew by over 180% in 2022.
Police are still looking for Griffin and asking for the public’s help to locate her.