Moment alleged ‘serial scammer’ grabs a mobile phone he said he wanted to buy on Facebook Marketplace and bolts

An alleged serial scammer went on a four-month crime spree where he used a popular online marketplace to trick victims into trying to sell him goods, according to police.  

The Melbourne man, who is in custody, faces 65 charges including over the alleged snatch and grab of a $2000 mobile phone which he pretended to be interested in buying from sellers on Facebook’s Marketplace.

Footage of the incident two months ago shows the man meeting two men under the alleged pretext of buying the phone, but instead grabbing it from the seller’s hand and dashing down the street. 

Monash University Professor of  Department of Software Systems & Cybersecurity Nigel Phair told Seven news that not all theft involving online platforms was high tech.

A Melbourne man faces over 60 charges for what police allege was a four-month crime spree using Facebook Marketplace

‘Some of the scams are more sophisticated but some of them just rely on good old confidence trickery,’ he said.

‘When there is a physical exchange always meet that person in a public place, tell people you are going there and indeed bring other people with you.’

He called on for online marketplaces to invest a lot more money in their trust and safety mechanisms.

‘They need to weed out those fake profiles and weed out the legitimate profiles where people are scammers,’ he said.

‘Australians are a rich jurisdiction. We love being online and we love buying and selling online. 

In one of the alleged crimes he purported to be a buyer for a $2000 mobile phone but simply snatched it from the seller's hand and ran off

In one of the alleged crimes he purported to be a buyer for a $2000 mobile phone but simply snatched it from the seller’s hand and ran off

‘The criminals internationally and in Australia know that and they prey on our vulnerabilities.’

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch service said it  received 301,791 scam reports in 2023, which was up by 26 per cent form 2022.

This amounted to financial losses totalling over $480 million.

READ MORE: Aussie loses $120,000 in 24 hours after fraudsters use worryingly simple tactic – and you won’t believe how the bank responded