A teenage boy who arranged to meet another teenager through a mobile app to sell a designer jacket worth €900 was attacked and robbed, Dublin District Court has heard.
It is alleged that Brandon Lulendo (19) also stood on the teenage boy’s mum’s glasses, breaking them during a violent struggle over the Canada Goose jacket, after the teenager and his mother met the young man in central Dublin.
The case was adjourned at Dublin District Court for the accused to consider how he intends to plead. The accused, of Richmond Road, Drumcondra, has been charged with robbery, assault, and criminal damage.
Addressing the court on Saturday 15 October, the prosecuting garda said that the accused has previously been charged with attempted robbery. But that charge was withdrawn by the State, and the new counts were instead brought against him.
Mr Lulendo did not respond after caution and was handed copies of the charge sheets. The Director of Public Prosecutions consented to the case being dealt with at district court level subject to the issue of jurisdiction being considered, The Sunday World reported.
Outlining the prosecution’s case, the prosecuting garda said Mr Lulendo had arranged to meet the alleged victim via a mobile phone app to buy a Canada Goose jacket from him. The pricey designer jackets often cost in the region of hundreds of euros. It is unclear which selling app the teenager used.
The 18-year-old selling the jacket went to the arranged meeting point at George’s Dock in central Dublin accompanied by his mother.
At the meeting, it was alleged both men attempted to walk away with the jacket without any money being exchanged. It has been alleged that the accused punched the other teenager multiple times in the head, and took the jacket.
There was subsequently a struggle on the Luas line, as the alleged teen victim fought back in an attempt to retrieve his stolen jacket, with the accused punching him one more time before leaving the scene.
The garda said that the damage charge related to the alleged victim’s mother’s glasses which were stood on during the incident. While there was no valuation on the damage to the glasses, the jacket was worth €900, the court was told.
Judge Bryan Smyth accepted jurisdiction for the case to remain in the district court. He extended bail to the new charges, and ordered disclosure of evidence from the prosecution to the defence, to include a copy of the alleged perpetrator’s garda interview video, along with any CCTV footage.
The case has been adjourned until 8 November.
One of the most popular online platforms for selling used items and loved clothing is Facebook Marketplace. However, the platform has been abused by scammers, with The Sun claiming last year that Facebook has been ‘unable to prevent fraudulent and dangerous activity’.
Dangerous Facebook Marketplace meetups have left at least 13 people dead since the start of the Covid pandemic, The Sun also reported in an article published in September 2021.
“Facebook Marketplace is allegedly filled with scammers who use the platform to commit armed robberies and even murder, leaving at least 13 people dead since the start of the pandemic,” the British paper reported, saying the site is filled with many fraudulent listings.
Marketplace, which was launched in 2016, now has more than one billion users. While the postings on the social media platform are primarily checked by artificial intelligence before being published, an investigation by ProPublica found that this has opened the way for scammers and networks of fake accounts.
In April 2021, tragedy unfolded after Pennsylvania woman, Denise Williams, arranged to meet a mini fridge meant for her boyfriend. The 54-year-old mother was allegedly stabbed to death by 26-year-old Joshua Gorgone, with her body found in his apartment after her family reported her missing. Gorgone is currently on trial.
In March 2021, the body of US man Joseph Vindel was found shot to death in his own car in New Orleans shortly after he went to meet someone who had expressed interest in buying his dirt bike. The 29-year-old had posted his bike on Marketplace, seeking $2,750 for it, it was reported.
Jalen Harvey, 20, was charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, and obstruction of justice in the death of Joseph.
Back in July 2020, two teenagers were shot dead as a result of Marketplace posting and meet-ups, according to Chicago police. Charlie Perez, 17, and Enrique Gonzalez were murdered in cold blood when they went to meet up with Davion Jones, 18, who had expressed interest in buying Perez’s father’s Honda Civic.
Other parts of the world have not been exempted from violence and crime driven by Marketplace meet-ups. In the UK, teen robbers lured unsuspecting victims into terrifying attacks at knifepoint after they had arranged to buy or sell iPhones using Marketplace.
One pregnant woman was caught up in a horror attack, while another victim said he feared he was going to be killed after a knife was held to his throat, the Manchester Evening News reported.
In February of this year, teenage ringleader Nana Vandevelde, 19, who admitted he had plotted the robberies to pay off a drugs debt, was jailed for five-and-a-half years.
Another robber, Zane Arshad, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison.
The robbers set up Facebook profiles under fake names to connect with people. Multiple victims were attacked and threatened with knives, while one man and his pregnant wife were chased down the street by a robber wielding a machete.
The first victim had found a Facebook Marketplace profile which claimed to be selling an iPhone 11, while the next victim had posted an advert on the site for an iPhone 11 for sale, and had agreed to meet just two weeks after the first attack.
Many people have also fallen victim to scams on the platform. In July of this year, up to 20 people were caught up in a scam advertising dream holidays to Donegal and Portrush. The scam involved the fraudulent use of images of genuine holiday accommodation in Donegal to draw in trusting victims.
Victims responded to the ads, paying deposits of up to £500 before being blocked by the criminals, who had used a number of different names to set up fake accounts.
The PSNI subsequently appealed to anyone who believed they’d fallen victim to either of the scams, and had not reported it, to do so. If any red flags are raised and you suspect fraud on the platform, you should report the seller immediately via Facebook help.