Orillia woman in ‘shock’ after internet sale turns into robbery

A woman had her cellphone snatched from her hands by a man in the parking lot of the recreation center after listing the phone for sale on Facebook Marketplace

An Orillia woman is in disbelief after being robbed outside the Orillia Recreation Center where she was attempting to complete an online sale.

Grace Jolly, 20, was scheduled to meet someone Monday afternoon after selling a cell phone to a man on Facebook Marketplace. When she met the buyer to finalize the transaction, he led her to the far corner of the parking lot.

“He wanted me to meet me in the far left parking lot,” she said. “I probably shouldn’t have done that, and it was a bad decision on my part.”

The man, who she said appeared to be between 15 and 20 years old, then asked Jolly if she would mind if he went to the ATM to withdraw cash or if she would prefer an electronic transfer.

“I said e-transfer because I didn’t want to sit and wait for him to go to the bank and back,” she explained.

While the man was pretending to be on his phone and completing the online banking transaction, he snatched Jolly’s phone from her hands and fled, running toward the Highway 12 bypass.

“I was in shock,” she said.

Looking back, Jolly says she felt something was wrong with the buyer from the start.

“He only has two photos on the Facebook profile,” she said. “His profile picture was just a photo of his shoes and pants.”

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In hindsight, Jolly wishes she hadn’t met the buyer alone, and now she realizes she should have met the seller somewhere safer.

“The Orillia Recreation Center has no outdoor cameras,” she said. “You won’t be able to look back and see it.”

Jolly says the robber’s Facebook account appears to still be active, which worries her and makes her think he’s going to try to rob someone else.

Orillia OPP Const. Brett Boniface says people who buy and sell online should consider using the parking lot at the Orillia OPP division at 1 University Ave. to use for transactions.

“We have designated parking spaces that are marked for such transactions,” he said. “Anyone is welcome to come and take advantage of this. It’s a safe place and well lit.”

Boniface says people should never attempt a transaction without some information about the buyer. He also says buyers shouldn’t exchange money before they see the item they’re buying.

When it comes to buying items from social media, Boniface says it’s important to examine the user’s purchase and sale history.

“A lot of platforms use rating systems for users,” he said. “That gives you a good idea of ​​whether the person is a good buyer or seller.”

Boniface says that checking the seller’s or buyer’s profile can provide a lot of information about them.

“If they have no posts or very few posts, those are some red flags that should deter a seller or buyer,” he said.

Boniface says Jolly did the right thing by calling 911 when she was robbed.

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“It’s a great reaction,” he said. “She actually did everything right. The police response in such cases, if they have just emerged, will be fairly quick.”

Hope is not entirely lost for Jolly; Boniface says her phone could still be recovered and the thief could possibly be caught.

“We have many investigative tools that can be used,” he said.