This arrest will have you thinking twice about using the platform for holiday shopping or at least how you approach it.

Utica Police have announced the arrest of a 19-year-old man for operating a Facebook Marketplace scam involving armed robbery.

Police officials say they responded to several complaints regarding armed robbery and theft stemming from an internet sales transaction... or so the victims thought. All the alleged incidents are said to have originated from a Facebook Market listing for an Xbox gaming system.

The seller-turned-suspect allegedly used an alias name, which police say originated from the 1100 block of Taylor Avenue in the city.

The 1st Incident

The first victim stated that they agreed upon a meeting spot for the exchange of the game system for cash. According to police, the seller provided the victim with a bag in which he claimed contained the Xbox.

When the victim was getting the money out of his pocket, the seller grabbed the cash and fled.

When the victim looked in the bag, he found the bag contained nothing but trash.

No one, except maybe for pride, was said to be injured during the transaction.

The 2nd Incident

Several days later, the suspect struck again. Police say they received another complaint where the victim arranged to meet the seller at a mutually agreed upon location to purchase the Xbox.

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When the exchange of cash for the item occurred, the victim inspected the bag and found no Xbox.

Officials say the victim attempted to confront the suspect, but the seller brandished a weapon and said the money would not be returned. He then fled.

The 3rd Incident

During the third encounter, the seller didn't waste any time with trickery. Police say the victim arrived at the meeting spot on the 1100 block of Taylor with the cash to purchase the Xbox.

The seller immediately pulled a firearm and demanded money. The victim surrendered the cash and the suspect fled.

Finding The Suspect

Utica Police say they were ultimately able to determine from each victim that the same Facebook alias name had been used in each of the three incidents.

Based on that information. police say they were able to establish their suspect and the victims were able to confirm the identity of the man.

An Arrest Was Made

Photo Courtesy of The City of Utica Police Department via Facebook
Photo Courtesy of The City of Utica Police Department via Facebook

After identifying the suspect, police issued a BOLO (Be On The Lookout) order department wide and finally on December 10th, 2023 patrol officers located and arrested 19-year-old Charles Phillips of Utica.

He has been charged with two counts of Robbery in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and Petit Larceny.

Tips to Avoid Being Scammed...or Worse

It is always imperative to use an abundance of caution when dealing with online transactions, especially when dealing with a stranger. Whenever you agree to purchase something over Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

Many local police departments will offer their station houses or headquarters as a mutual and safe meeting place for the exchange.

The Utica Police Department and Oneida County Sheriff's Office will allow for such things. If anyone is opposed to that idea, it's likely you should probably go elsewhere for the item.

Nothing is worth risking your safety over.

The Top 10 Dumbest Cities in New York State

According to Road Snacks, New York isn't just one of the dumbest states in the nation - they claim to have found the top 10 dumbest cities in the Empire State.

As for what determines a "dumb" city, Road Snacks compared 163 cities with 5,000 or more residents, to find those with the largest population of those who never finished high school. The survey used Census data and "scientific stuff" from other "legitimate" sources to find the 10 areas with the highest concentration of high school dropouts.

Road Snacks argues that not finishing high school puts one at a significant disadvantage in life. The study adds that the areas with the highest percentage of adults without a high school degree should shine a light on the state as a whole.

In the end, these 10 cities were deemed to be the dumbest in New York State.
That said, the company is not calling these cities "dumb" - so if you have an issue, take it up with Road Snacks. We're just reporting their findings.

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