Online Marketplace Sued After Family Shot And Robbed
Online marketplaces are becoming more and more popular. Even social media sites like Facebook are getting into the scene. However, just because someone has a Facebook account, it doesn’t mean that you know anything about them. In one case, a husband and wife attempting to purchase an SUV in suburban Denver were fatally shot and killed by an individual who was represented to them as a “verified seller”. The individual was actually using a fake name using fraudulent credentials and had an extensive criminal history. The couple leaves behind 5 children.
The plaintiffs allege that the app “Letgo” falsely advertises itself as a safe online marketplace that provides verification services to customers. However, they believe that there is no verification process at all and it’s very easy to dupe what few protections exist.
Understanding the scheme
Most people won’t agree to meet in a shady alley, so the trick is to set them up somewhere safe and then divert them elsewhere. That’s precisely what happened here. The “verified seller” told the couple that he’d brought the wrong title and the couple agreed to meet him elsewhere. The “verified seller” pulled a gun on the couple and a struggle ensued. Both husband and wife were shot dead. The teenage gunman fled with the $3,000 the couple had brought to purchase the vehicle. He has since been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and will remain in prison for the rest of his natural life. It took police two weeks to track down the suspect. All the shooter needed was a verified email address to set up an account.
The company has since rebranded and now goes under a different name. However, in their terms of service, they state that they do not verify the criminal history of any of their sellers. The company is being sued for wrongful death, deceptive trade practices, and fraud. The family is demanding a trial by jury.
Can a marketplace be held accountable for a seller’s conduct?
Not necessarily but this is a unique situation. In this case, the marketplace led their customers to believe that there was a verification process and then some accounts were “more reputable” than others. This likely encouraged them to meet the seller and then trust that nothing was amiss when he asked them to relocate. Had the marketplace not represented the man as a “verified” seller, then the family may not have trusted the process. Anyone can bring the wrong title. They trusted him.
On that basis, the family will allege that the marketplace is responsible for the two deaths. They hope that this tragedy will prevent future tragedies and force online marketplaces to actually verify accounts before claiming they are verified.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney Today
The Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. file wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits on behalf of grieving families and injury victims. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.