Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maspeth Girl Admits to LI Craigslist Scam

Unsuspecting Buyers Were Lured, Robbed

By Conor Greene

An 18-year-old Maspeth woman who advertised luxury cars online and then robbed the potential buyers is facing up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to masterminding the scam.

Agnes Banach pleaded guilty last week to a host of charges including five counts of robbery, two counts of grand larceny and conspiracy in connection with robberies in Freeport and Baldwin in November and December 2007. She is expected to be sentenced to five years in prison when she returns to court on January 22.

“Ms. Banach’s violent actions have left her no other option but to serve time in prison,” said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. “We were prepared to take this case to trial before she took responsibility for her actions.”

Banach began scamming potential car buyers when she placed an ad on Craigslist on November 26, 2007 offering a Porsche for sale at a bargain-basement price. A person responding to the ad was told to bring a $4,800 down payment when he and his wife went to Freeport to look at the vehicle.

Banach, known to the victims as “Linda,” met them at the Long Island address and then dropped her keys, which was the signal for her co-conspirators to attack the buyers. At that point, four men jumped out and attacked the couple, stealing their down payment and Blackberry.

The scam targeted an unsuspecting buyer again on December 6, when a father and son answered an ad for a 2002 Porsche that Banach placed on Craigslist under the name “Lucy.” The men were told to bring a $22,000 down payment with them to an address in Baldwin.

As the son knocked on the door, a man, identified as 18-year-old Chad Greaves, punched him multiple times. The attacker pulled out what appeared to be a gun and robbed the father of $100, according to authorities. Banach and seven co-conspirators were arrested less than two weeks after the second heist.

Also charged in the scam were Khaliek Owens, 17, of Brooklyn, who pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery; and Christopher Blanco, 19, of the Bronx, who pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree robbery.

In addition, Lavainna Seaton, 17, Chad Greaves, 18, Ronique Simpson, 19, all of Brooklyn; Wally Arias, 19, of the Bronx, and George Obanyoun, 20, of Inwood, pleaded guilty to robbery, attempted robbery, grand larceny and conspiracy. They will be sentenced on December 18.

This marks at least the second recent local scam involving Craigslist to result in robberies. Earlier this year, videographer Tom Morgan was robbed at gunpoint of his wallet and $4,000 worth of equipment after responding to a posting seeking somebody to tape a two-hour bachelorette party in Brooklyn.

To avoid such scams, Craigslist urges people to “deal locally with people you can meet in person… Follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of scam attempts on Craigslist,” the website warns.

No comments: