Robbers Use Facebook
To Target Victims
Written by: LCSO
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office would like to bring to light the consequences of conducting business online. Recent arrests have shown that thieves may target you as a victim even through emails and text messages. If you intend to purchase an item online and agree to meet the person, complete the transaction in a public place or even at one of the Sheriff’s District Offices. Be aware that these people may not use their real names or addresses but they will attempt to retrieve yours. Stay alert, and if something sounds or looks suspicious, please contact the Sheriff’s Office or local law enforcement. Here is the most recent example.
On Wednesday, February 5, 2014, at 5:55p.m., the Lee County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an armed robbery. The incident occurred at 1519 Michael Avenue, Lehigh Acres, Florida. Deputies responded to the scene and met with two male victims who advised they had gone to the location to purchase used cellular phones. Due to the nature of the crime, detectives with the Robbery / Auto Theft Unit arrived to assume the investigation.
The men had used a Facebook community page in search of the used IPhones to buy. Arrangements with a seller were made and the buyers agreed to meet at a home in Lehigh Acres. After arriving at the predetermined location, they soon realized the residence was vacant and they were set up. Their first contact was with 18 year old Melina Maldonado of Lehigh Acres. She met the victims in the driveway and initiated the bogus transaction while a masked man, later identified as 19 year old Gustavo Fernandes Souza of Lehigh Acres, approached from the opposite side of the vehicle, brandishing an AR15 rifle. The two were forced at gunpoint out of the car and led to the garage where they were searched and robbed of their belongings by a third masked man identified as Xavier Rodriguez, age 19, of Fort Myers. The victims were left in the garage and had an opportunity to escape. They ran to a nearby residence to get help.
Detectives learned that the robbers were using fake names with Maldonado using the first name Finesser, which refers to “someone who robs or steals”. On Tuesday, February 11, 2014, Maldonado and Rodriguez were located and charged. Souza was arrested on Wednesday, February 12th. All were charged for robbery with a firearm and booked into the Lee County Jail. Additional information on their arrest status is available on the Sheriff’s Office website at www.sheriffleefl.org via the Arrest Search link.