Four arrested in Montreal robberies arranged through online ads

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After warning the public over robberies staged through online classified ads recently, Montreal police say they've arrested four people responsible -- though they don't appear to have been working together, police said.

Two of this kind of robbery happened recently in Pierrefonds-Roxboro, west of Montreal. In both cases, the suspects allegedly posed as buyers for high-price items, showed up and then took, or tried to take, the items without paying and with the use of a weapon.

The first was on March 23.

"Two suspects posed as buyers interested in buying a car on an online classifieds platform," police said, without specifying which platform.

"They then tricked and assaulted their victim at the end of a test drive by spraying him with [pepper spray]."

However, the suspects didn't mange to steal the car, police said -- they fled on foot. 

The second robbery was 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 gave the victim an appointment 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, over the theft of the computer equipment.

All four "face several charges, including robbery, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and conspiracy," police said.

They said they conducted four searches and were able to "get their hands on various pieces of evidence."

They added that "although the two robberies are similar, there is no evidence that the two events are related."

They used the announcement as another chance to advise the public on how to stay safe during transactions arranged online.

They advise meeting in a secure trading area -- one of four zones set up for this purpose on the Island of Montreal, including one in Dollard-des-Ormeaux in front of SPVM Station 4, at 4139 Blvd. des Sources.

"Malicious individuals are unlikely to show up at a police station to commit theft or fraud," they said.

They also reminded people to beware of offers that are "too good to be true" and to try ahead of time to verify the identity of the person you're doing business with.

If you can't go to a secure trading area, try to find a public place equipped with security cameras, police said. And ask "someone you trust" to come with you during the transaction.

They also advise to find a way to pay electronically rather than with cash.

People with information on this type of crime are asked to call 911 or report anonymous tips to 514-393-1133.

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