Sale arranged by an app turns ugly in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – News Channel 8 has a warning tonight if you plan to buy or sell holiday gifts using an app on your phone. 

Beware of thieves who trick you into a meeting then rob you blind.

Those apps make it so easy. Just search, contact the seller and you’ve just scored a deal.

But it can go really bad, really fast.

Hoping to make some Christmas cash, Janine Mekkaoui placed ads on the app “5 Miles.”

She listed her Michael Kors purse and her daughter’s iPhone 6-S.

She soon had a taker.

“Said he was looking for a Michael Kors purse for his girlfriend. And he’s wanting to upgrade his old phone. He showed me his phone,” said Mekkaoui.

Using the chat feature on the 5 Miles app, the two agreed to meet at a Pinellas Park Walmart Neighborhood store.

Instead of driving a car, the buyer walked up to her mini van.

As he examined the merchandise, things turned ugly.

“He just abruptly left, like really quick. Surprised me so much. And the shock and it took me a moment to figure out what actually happened,” said Mekkaoui.

In a flash, gone. The purse, the iPhone and Makkaoui’s plans for a quick sale for $600.

“When I realized what was happening, I started shaking real bad. Even got in my car and chasing after him with the sliding door open,” she said.

She didn’t catch the guy, but Pinellas Park police did. He is 18-year-old Demetrious Woods, who lives near the Walmart.

Mekkaoui is learning a hard lesson and will conduct future transactions where others will notice.

“There’s a certain emotional roller coaster you go through. More to shock to hurt to very vulnerable to angry,” she said.

Pinellas Park police believe Demetrious Woods may be responsible for similar robberies like this.

They remind people involved in transactions using an app to play it safe by going to a “safe spot” like a police station.

In Pinellas Park, the lobby is open 24 hours a day.

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