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Facebook Sale Led to Robbery, Police Say

Two West Bloomfield men arrested in sting operation set up after initial incident.

Two local men are in custody after a phony transaction initiated on Facebook led to a strong-arm robbery at a vacant home, according to Lt. Tim Diamond.

Diamond said the incident began Sunday afternoon when a Farmington Hills man apparently received a Facebook message from another man, who has not been arrested, that he was interested in purchasing a Gucci brand belt that had been advertised through the social media site.

The buyer is suspected of creating a fictitious Facebook account, using an alias, Diamond added.

Diamond said the buyer asked the seller to meet him in the driveway of a vacant home on the 6100 block of Nicholas Drive on Sunday afternoon, which the seller agreed to do. The two met and as the seller pulled out $50 to make change for the buyer, he was punched in the face by the buyer, who escaped with his money in a car, police said.

"If you’re going to do something like what these guys are doing — trying to sell something online — you need to be careful about where you agree to meet. There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘Why don’t you meet me at the West Bloomfield Police station, and we’ll discuss this transaction there. If the person is legit, they’re going to say, ‘That’s fine,'" Diamond said.

Diamond said a friend of the seller was contacted by a friend of the buyer on Monday, who was calling from the same phone number that the buyer had initially used. That friend was interested in purchasing a belt that was being similarly advertised online, and agreed to meet at the same vacant home on Monday afternoon.

This friend collaborated with West Bloomfield detectives to set up a sting operation, Diamond said. Two West Bloomfield men, one 18 and the other 19 years old, were arrested on suspicion of robbery. They have not been arraigned so police did not identify them.

Although not involved in the initial robbery, the suspects have information that could soon lead to more arrests,  Diamond said.

For questions about this report, email Tim.Rath@patch.com.

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