Phone stolen after man meets potential buyer on app

HOUSTON – A Houston man is cautioning others about safety precautions after he said his cellphone was swiped by a potential buyer from an app.

Brian said that he and his wife listed their old iPhone on the letgo app to try to make some money to buy a new phone. Instead, the couple said that the buyer swiped the phone.

“I lost $1,000, a $1,000 phone," Brian said. “You just don’t know who is behind the other screen."

Brian said the buyer agreed to pay $750 for the used phone and they made arrangements to meet.

“The whole story just wasn’t right," he said of the meeting.

Brian said that the buyer claimed he was a student at Texas State University and wanted to meet in a parking garage. The couple said the buyer then changed his mind and sent them to several locations. When they met him several blocks away, they said the buyer asked to see serial numbers on the phone.

“He turned the phone over and then he ran off, I tried to chase after him but he got lost in the complex," Brian said. “He basically got a free phone, he stole it and got away with it.”

Brian said the alleged thief discarded the SIM card so the phone cant be tracked.

The couple filed a police report. Houston police said that they have a possible suspect and will continue the investigation. Police said the best place to complete online or social media deals or transactions is in a public place or police station parking lot.

Brian said that he hopes others will learn from his experience.

“The mistake was we went somewhere where no one was around and he took advantage,” Brian said.

A letgo spokesperson said they will help law enforcement in the investigation and offered this statement:

"Our team is available to help local law enforcement with their investigation.

"We've included user profiles, ratings and reviews, and other features in our app so users can see who they're talking to and what others have said about them. We use a mix of human and artificial intelligence to moderate our marketplace and we ask our user community to help by flagging anything that raises concerns so we can investigate.

"We also encourage users to meet in a busy, public place like a coffee shop or bank lobby. If anything raises a red flag, like someone making odd requests or refusing to meet in public, we advise users to trust their instincts, report that person to us if needed and find another buyer or seller. Our team is also available to answer questions."

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