An Auburndale man used the popular buy and sell app called Letgo to purchase a used car, but instead ended up with a gun to head.
The attempted robbery happened on January 11th in an empty store parking lot in Lakeland.
“They wanted $13 hundred for it,” the victim recalls.
ABC Action News agreed not to identify him because he’s afraid for his safety.
The man found a great deal on an old Chevy Impala through the Letgo app. The seller was later identified as Jarquez Harris.
Lakeland Police said Harris actually never had a car to sell and all he wanted was money and was willing to go to great lengths to get it.
The victim brought his brother with him to meet seller in an empty parking lot.
“He stuck the pistol to my little brother to the back of his seat and he said this is how this is going to go down,” he remembered. “Then he reached out and he stuck the pistol to the side of my head.”
He counted down from five to zero, but thankfully the gunman never pulled the trigger.
The victim made a scene and scared him off.
“He took a big risk and I don’t know if that’s a good thing to do but in this case it worked,” said Sgt. Gary Gross with the Lakeland Police Department.
Gross said the best and easiest solution is to tell sellers the only place you will meet is at the police department.
LPD’s lobby is always open as a safe haven.
“You can negotiate that transaction and have a safe meeting place,” Gross said.
In this case, detectives tracked Harris down a few days later at his Lakeland apartment.
The officers actually posed as buyers on the Letgo app and got Harris to meet them. He was arrested without incident.
“There’s no telling how many people he did this to before I came along,” the victim said.
Now he’s sharing an important warning: if you’re not careful with these apps, your lives are at stake.
A Letgo spokesperson tells ABC Action News that issues like this are “extremely rare” and that tens of millions of items are bought and sold securely every month.
The company said it has incorporated new features to make the app more safe including account verification, in-app chat ratings, and artificial intelligence to moderate the platform.
More safety tips can be found on letgo.com.