Plainfield woman charged in Facebook Marketplace scam

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul

Plainfield — A Plainfield woman has been charged with purchasing three vehicles via Facebook Marketplace using fake identification documents and fraudulent checks.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office announced on Tuesday that 26-year-old Plainfield resident Jocelyn Buster had been charged with three counts of theft by deception, three counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and two counts of money laundering in relation to the purchases.

According to a statement from Raoul’s office, all three crimes are Class 2 felonies, and each carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison if found guilty.

Raoul’s office alleges that in June 2023, Buster contacted three Facebook users expressing interest in vehicles they had posted for sale on Facebook Marketplace. Buster allegedly purchased all three vehicles using fake identification and paid with checks and fraudulent cashiers’ checks. After purchasing two of the vehicles, Buster is alleged to have sold them to suburban car dealerships.

“My office is committed to identifying and holding individuals accountable whether they engage in theft or fraud in the real world or on social media,” Raoul said in the statement. “With online sale marketplaces growing in popularity, I urge Illinois consumers to take proactive steps to protect themselves from fraud.”

Buster has pleaded not guilty and is next due in court on May 20, according to the news release from Raoul’s office.

The attorney general’s office reminds Illinois consumers to take precautions when purchasing or selling products online and provided a list of safety tips.

• Sellers and buyers are encouraged to meet for drop-offs in a safe location during the day and to bring a friend along for the exchange. Many municipal police departments have designated safe locations where you can meet for such transactions.

• Participants in online sales are also warned not to share unnecessary personal information or account information with a buyer or seller and, when using a third-party app, like Facebook or Craigslist to arrange a sale, to keep all communication on that platform. It is also recommended that in-person sales use cash instead of personal checks or peer-to-peer apps like Venmo or Zelle.

• Customers are encouraged to be wary of scams. Raoul’s office noted buyers should “be wary of deals that seem too good to be true” and recommended reverse image searching pictures on Google or TinEye to see if the pictures are stolen or recycled.

Similarly, sellers are advised to be skeptical of “anyone willing to overpay for an item” unless there are multiple interested parties, and an item is considered rare.

The Attorney General’s office offers a complaint portal on its website for anyone who is the victim of a scam or attempted scam. If residents encounter an online scammer, they should report it to their local police.