New York police are searching for two men who posed as car salesmen on Facebook Marketplace and have robbed potential buyers or sellers nine times in the Bronx and Queens

Police officials are warning Americans about purchasing goods on Facebook Marketplace following a string of robberies across the nation.

Criminals are creating fake profiles on the social media platform, with many claiming to have cars for sale to lure unsuspecting victims into meeting in person.

New York law enforcement have called the rise in Marketplace robberies a ‘crime of opportunity’ after 90 related crimes were reported this year, up from 58 last year.

Other reports of criminal activity have come from as far as Alaska to California, Illinois and Virginia – data has shown that nearly every state has fallen victim. 

The robbers have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars and personal items, including victim’s phones and cars, and such crimes have ended with at least one death this year. 

New York police are searching for two men who posed as car salesmen on Facebook Marketplace and have robbed potential buyers or sellers nine times in the Bronx and Queens

New York police are searching for two men who posed as car salesmen on Facebook Marketplace and have robbed potential buyers or sellers nine times in the Bronx and Queens

More than one billion people buy a product on Facebook Marketplace worldwide every month, making up about 40 percent of the platform’s three billion active users. 

Robbers have breached the marketplace under the guise of selling or buying products and have arranged to meet people in less populated places.

‘They are luring people to secluded areas because they know there are no cameras there and makes our investigation more challenging,’ NYPD Deputy Chief Jason Savino told PIX11 News.

New York police are currently on the lookout for two men who have posed as car salesmen on the platform and have robbed potential buyers or sellers nine times in the Bronx and Queens since December 29.

The criminals escaped with $10,000 in cash from the victims in at least two robberies and stole the victim’s cars or smaller amounts of money during the other attacks. 

Before agreeing to a sale, you should first check their profile to make sure it looks real and only meet during the day in a public and busy area to protect yourself from a potential robbery

Before agreeing to a sale, you should first check their profile to make sure it looks real and only meet during the day in a public and busy area to protect yourself from a potential robbery

There are warning signs to look out for on Facebook Marketplace including if the person doesn't have a profile picture showing his or her face, has no posts and/or only has one Facebook friend.

There are warning signs to look out for on Facebook Marketplace including if the person doesn’t have a profile picture showing his or her face, has no posts and/or only has one Facebook friend.

Reports have increased in other states including Anchorage, Alaska where two or three males attacked unsuspecting buyers who were meeting to purchase shoes and robbed them of all their possessions.

Likewise, in Indianapolis, a 22-year-old was convicted in March of robbing five people at gunpoint after using Facebook Marketplace to lure them to a secluded area under the premise of buying a car.

Officials have said there are warning signs to look out for on Facebook Marketplace including if the person doesn’t have a profile picture showing his or her face, has no posts and/or only has one Facebook friend.

In response to the rise in Marketplace crimes, police across the US have set up ‘safe exchange zones’ at their precincts which are under 24/7 surveillance where sellers and buyers can safely meet.

‘If you are doing a transaction with a person and there’s a fear and if they don’t want to go to a precinct, maybe you shouldn’t do that transaction,’ NYPD Community Affairs Commissioner Mark Stewart told ABC7 News. 

Police don’t actively monitor the cameras, but if a robbery does happen at one of the zones, the video will give detectives and investigators a good amount of video footage to find the criminal. 

Even though the cameras aren’t being watched, ‘if somebody’s willing to meet at a police station, the probability of them doing something to harm you is unlikely,’ Detective Bryan Ferreiras with the Richmond Police Department in Virginia told 12News.

Police have also suggested asking an officer to be present in the parking lot when meeting the buyer or seller or can arrange for the meeting at a local police station, no appointment needed.

‘We don’t mind having people in the parking lot doing a safe exchange because that’s one less incident that we have to worry about on the street,’ Ferreiras told 12News.

Before agreeing to a sale, you should first check their profile to make sure it looks real and only meet during the day in a public and busy area to protect yourself from a potential robbery.

‘Daylight hours are recommended. And then two, at your local precinct locations,’ NYPD Captain Spiro Papavlasopoulos told CBS News. 

‘Deal sounds too good to be true? Then it’s probably not. You should consider canceling that transaction,’ he added.

Don’t go to meet someone alone for the transaction or let someone know who you are meeting and where and make a plan to contact them once the exchange is over. 

In case something goes wrong, make sure you’ve preemptively taken screenshots of your conversation with the seller so you have evidence to provide the police and if you are robbed, memorize the suspects and their vehicle.

DailyMail.com has reached out to Facebook’s parent company, Meta, for comment. 

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