Craigslist transaction goes horribly wrong

A Lexington County man thought he was selling his used car. Instead, he got robbed at gunpoint.

Buyer beware!

And, if you’re transacting on Craiglist, beware of strangers as well.

Case in point: A man in Lexington County who planned to buy a car from a stranger he met online was instead robbed at gunpoint this past Saturday night, according to Lexington County sheriff’s Capt. Adam Myrick.

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Justin Allen Penzes

The victim told Lexington County sheriff’s deputies he had arranged to pay 28-year-old Justin Allen Penzes for a car Penzes had listed on Craigslist.

“The men were supposed meet at a truck stop but Penzes called the victim to say he couldn’t make it because he was having car trouble,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “After the victim arrived at a new location on Pond Branch Road to complete the transaction, Penzes pulled a gun on him and took some cash.”

According to Koon, a passenger was with the victim at the time of the robbery. They were able to get the suspect’s license plate number as he drove away.

Deputies arrested Penzes a short time later in the 1700 block of Two Notch Road, Koon said.

The suspect was found to have active arrest warrants out of Saluda County for armed robbery and the possession of a weapon during a violent crime, according to information from the sheriff’s department.

Penzes remained in the Lexington County Detention Center on Monday night after he was denied bond, according to Myrick.

“This incident serves as an important reminder to complete person-to-person transactions in a well-lighted and well-traveled public place,” Koon said. “Consider using the parking lot or the lobby of a local law enforcement agency or a location that you know has a working surveillance system, such as a major shopping center.”

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A safe area for online transactions in the parking lot of the Lexington Police Department. (Photo by Hal Millard)

Indeed, many local law enforcement agencies in the Midlands have actively encouraged transactions be done on police premises, even setting up on-premises zones or spots specially marked with signs, such as at the Lexington Police Department and other jurisdictions throughout Lexington and Richland counties.

While Craigslist is a legit website used safely by millions, many use the site to prey on unsuspecting victims. For other examples of Craigslist deals gone bad, simply click here.

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