The use of Craigslist to expedite robberies

Since Craigslist was founded almost a dozen years ago, the popular classified site has been a boon to those looking for a bargain. On Craigslist, you can find good deals, maybe even on a much sought after cell phone. Eager buyers have become easy victims for thieves who recognize Craigslist as a source of willing targets.

The very anonymity of a Craigslist posting provides almost perfect cover for the commission of a crime. The San Francisco area company has been linked to a number of crimes in recent years that are based on a criminal’s ability to lure their victims to locations that make the victim vulnerable.

Craigslist’s popularity and breadth make it possible to bring together elements of society that would normally have little chance to make contact.

A 21-year-old Newport News man responded recently to a Craigslist posting that was advertising iPhones. The phones were being sold for $180. The victim went to an apartment in the late afternoon. He was met at the door by woman wearing lingerie. She invited him in and said she was going into another room to get the phone, according to police.

Moments later, a man wearing a mask and pointing a handgun came from the room and demanded the victim’s property. The assailant took the victim’s cash and his cell phone. He was then ordered to leave the apartment, according to police.

A Robbery and an Arrest, Courtesy of Craigslist

An aggravated robbery in the San Fernando Valley also exemplifies the use of Craigslist to expedite robberies.

A 24-year-old man from Panorama City advertised some computer equipment for sale on Craigslist and agreed to meet a potential buyer at a McDonald’s. Three men showed up at the location and one of them, Levon Iskandaryan, waved down the seller (soon to be victim) in the parking lot.

Iskandaryan noticed that the victim was holding an iPhone5. Iskandaryan coerced the seller to walk to a nearby car by saying the rear passenger was pointing a gun at him.

The victim followed Iskandaryan to a gray sedan where an accomplice was holding a gun, and a third man was seated in the driver’s seat. Iskandaryan grabbed the phone from the victim, and then the two struggled over it for a moment. When the victim lost his hold, the car door shut, but caught the victim’s clothing. As the car sped away, it dragged the victim for several feet, tearing his clothes, scraping and burning his skin.

Iskandaryan and his accomplice were later arrested when they sold the stolen phone on Craigslist.

In light of crimes such as these, police are encouraging people to conclude their transactions at perhaps one of the safest places in town – the local police station. Or, just use eBay.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman