Thieves use OfferUp app, fake bills to target victims

- A Riverview teenager fell victim to a couple of scammers last week when she used a cell phone app to sell her used iPhone and her father said he wants to make others aware of what happened.

The 17-year-old's father, who doesn't want to be identified because the thieves haven't been caught, said his daughter used the OfferUp app to list her old iPhone 6. She agreed to sell the phone to a  potential buyer for $350.

Her dad said they agreed to meet the would-be buyers at a restaurant so they could make the transaction in a public place.

"They checked out the phone and handed me some counterfeit money," he told FOX 13. "As soon as it hit  my hands I could tell it was fake and I didn't even finish the sentence -- 'what is this?' -- and  they just both sprinted across the parking lot."

OfferUp is a digital marketplace for users to buy and sell items director with one another.

This situation was nearly identical to one that happened in Polk County in which deputies said two teenagers used the same app and tricked a young girl into thinking she was selling her iPhone 6. Just like in the Riverview case, the criminals handed the seller a wad of counterfeit money and stole the phone.

"I really do worry that things like this can escalate and you have a lot of kids selling things,  teenagers, that just aren't ready for this type of thing or don't think that this type of thing can happen to them," said the father of the teen in Riverview. "I'm just glad nobody was hurt and that  she told me that she was selling the phone and let me go with her."

Detectives made two arrests in the Polk County case. It's unclear if there is any connection to the situation in Riverview.

Hillsborough deputies are looking into what happened in Riverview and are reviewing surveillance video from the restaurant.

In a statement to FOX 13, an OfferUp spokesperson said:

"A trusted OfferUp experience is our number one priority and we don't tolerate criminal activity or fraud in our community. OfferUp's commitment to building a marketplace based on trust has been part of our DNA from day one, and as such, we've integrated multiple safety checks, on and off the platform, to help consumers navigate towards a safer OfferUp experience.

Buyers who have counterfeit money can be a more challenging obstacle to overcome because more often than not, counterfeit bills can't easily be detected with the human eye. We always encourage our users to meet in a public location, use our in-app messaging, and in this instance, be sure to check the profile of your buyer -- look for past ratings, a photo, and a TruYou membership. If you're unsure about something you can always ask, or choose to transact with buyers who already have a strong rating on OfferUp. More tips for keeping transactions secure can be found on"

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