Warning over Facebook Marketplace in South Africa

 ·8 Apr 2024

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has issued a warning over criminals who are exploiting Facebook Marketplace to rob their victims in South Africa.

This warning came after two brothers were murdered for falling victim to a false Facebook Marketplace advertisement on Saturday (6 April).

According to police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu, the two men were lured to an address under false pretences, where they were robbed and killed.

Upon arriving at the location, the victims discovered that no such ad existed, and the house occupants were unaware of any sale.

While still at the address, two suspects approached and robbed them at gunpoint. The bakkie was later found not far from the crime scene.

The perpetrators took their cash, cell phones, and vehicles before shooting them.

Naidu warned the public to exercise caution and diligence when using social media platforms to make purchases.

Verify the credibility of sellers, conduct transactions in safe locations, and consider involving law enforcement if there are any suspicions,” Naidu said.

District Commissioner, Major-General Vuyisile Ncata added and advised the public to “never tread on unfamiliar territory.”

This warning also follows the noticed increase in criminals exploiting Facebook Marketplace to rob their victims in South Africa – with several reported Facebook Marketplace robberies since last year.

These reporters also included a suspected syndicate operating in Winterveld and Rietgat in Soshanguve, Pretoria.

According to reports, these criminals post false ads for multiple items, such as TVs, solar equipment, and even pianos.

However, the most common item listed for sale on false ads is vehicles, with very attractive prices—often too good to be true.

Additionally, Although very few of these cases result in murder, many have resulted in severe injury, while other victims are often put through a long ordeal as the criminals try to empty bank accounts before letting the victims go.

This trend is not surprising given the host of new tactics criminals use to steal from everyday South Africans – while crimes associated with these trends have seen a notable rise compared to the previous years.

According to the SAPS’ Crime Stats for the third quarter of the 2023/24 year (October to December 2023), contact crime (crimes against another person) increased by 3.8% compared to the prior period.

Looking at certain violent crimes over the third quarter, murder increased by 2.1% and attempted murder increased by 13% from the prior period.

Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily (5.8%), common assault (0.4%), common robbery (3.9%), robbery with aggravating circumstances (6.6%), and carjackings (6.5%) all increased.

Read: Massive 6-month shutdown of critical water supply for South Africa – what you need to know

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