After recently warning the public of robberies through online classifieds, Montreal police say they have arrested four people responsible – although they do not appear to have worked together, police said.
Two such thefts occurred recently in Pierrefonds-Roxboro, west of Montreal. In both cases, the suspects allegedly posed as buyers of high-priced items, introduced themselves and then took, or attempted to take, the items without paying and using a weapon.
The first was March 23.
“Two suspects posed as buyers interested in buying a car on an online classifieds platform,” police said, without specifying which platform it was.
“They then tricked and assaulted their victim at the end of a test drive by spraying him with [pepper spray].”
However, the suspects failed to steal the car, police said – they fled on foot.
The second flight took place a month later, on April 21.
“Two other individuals also posed as potential buyers, this time for the purchase of computer accessories worth several thousand dollars,” police said.
“They arranged to meet the victim and, at gunpoint, stole the equipment before fleeing.”
In the first incident, police arrested Emmanuel Mgoung Bougha, 22, and Anthony Canales, 21, on May 4, 2022.
Two days later, they arrested Osman Hussain, 21, and Sukhdav Singh Virk, 22, for stealing computer equipment.
All four “face multiple counts including robbery, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and conspiracy,” police said.
They said they carried out four searches and were able to “get their hands on various pieces of evidence”.
They added that “although the two thefts are similar, there is no evidence that the two events are related”.
They used the announcement as another opportunity to advise the public on how to stay safe when conducting organized transactions online.
They recommend meeting in a secure commercial area — one of four areas set up for this purpose on the island of Montreal, including one in Dollard-des-Ormeaux in front of SPVM Station 4, at 4139 boul. sources.
“Malicious individuals are unlikely to show up at a police station to commit theft or fraud,” they said.
They also reminded people to be wary of “too good to be true” offers and to try to verify the identity of the person you are dealing with in advance.
If you can’t get to a secure shopping area, try to find a public place with security cameras, police said. And ask “someone you trust” to accompany you during the transaction.
They also advise finding a way to pay electronically rather than cash.
People with information about this type of crime are asked to call 911 or report anonymous tips to 514-393-1133.