Police arrest two in sting operation involving “Let Go” app
Update: On April 15, police announced they also arrested Marshun Lil Dre Lucas, 24, of Conway in connection to the incident. He was charged with armed robbery and driving with a suspended license.
Two men face a host of charges for a scheme that allegedly involved posting fake online classified ads only to lure victims to a location to rob them.
Horry County police announced on Thursday charges of armed robbery, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during a violent crime against Justin Matthew Brown, 19, and Marquise Devonte Knight, 21.
Police arrested the duo in a Sunday sting operation.
In January, Brown and Knight posted an ad on the LetGo app to sell a dirt bike, police said. The victims agreed to buy the bike and meet at a Cascade Road home in the Green Sea area. Authorities said that was an abandoned home. There, the suspects reportedly confronted the victims with handguns and demanded money.
A similar incident happened again in March, and one of the victims was hit in the head with a gun, according to Horry County police.
A week ago, Georgetown resident Wade Mavus tried to buy a car from the suspect through the LetGo app. Mavus said his wife used the app before, as well as making deals on Craigslist.
The car was a good offer, but not so unreasonable as to raise concern, Mavus said.
The Mavus family agreed to meet the suspects in person to complete the purchase on Friday in the Green Sea area, but the seller pushed the meeting time from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Some people call it a “gut feeling,” the Mavus family calls it the Holy Spirit, but they started to become uneasy.
“She said, ‘I don’t feel good about it,’” Mavus recalled his wife telling him.
The family tried to confirm the seller’s identity and found the same vehicle for sale on another website. They contacted the seller who told the Mavus family of the possible scam and Wade Mavus said they called the police.
“It was a really good deal that could have turned into a really bad deal,” Mavus said.
Days later, Horry police posed as buyers and met Brown and Knight. During the sting, Horry Police sent a message through the LetGo app to the suspects letting them know “You’ve been busted by Horry County police.” That was done to confirm one of the suspect’s phones.
Officers found Brown on the front porch and arrested him. Knight was in the woods with a gun and tried to run, but officers found him hiding under a log, police say.
Horry police Sgt. Michael Kathman said if people are making an online transaction, they should do their due diligence, agree to meet in a public place and use common sense.
“If something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Kathman said.
In the cases against Brown and Knight, Kathman said the fact the suspects wanted to meet in a rural location, at an abandoned house, should have raised alarms.
“The location itself should be a red flag,” he said.
Police have seen an uptick in the number of cases that involve a social media app, Kathman said. He added it is challenging to keep up with the technology as new apps launch every day.