Two men who used a buy-and-sell app to target victims have been charged in a scam that defrauded people of money last year, Suffolk police said Tuesday.
Ronnie Langhorn, 19, of Mastic, was arraigned Tuesday in connection with three incidents and charged with second-degree robbery, fourth-degree grand larceny and petit larceny.
Police said an accomplice, Mitchell Washington, 21, of Bay Shore, allegedly threatened to shoot a victim in one of the cases. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree robbery at his arraignment Wednesday.
Early this month, Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart and County Executive Steve Bellone warned the public about a scam that had started as early as August, saying Seventh Precinct detectives were looking into five incidents in which up to three males stole from people trying to buy phones through the letgo app. People use the app to advertise items for sale or to look for items to buy, police said, and when the suspects arranged meetings to conclude the transactions, they stole money from the buyers.
In three of the five cases, they arranged meetings in front of a Mastic Beach home on Mayfield Drive, whose residents were not involved but whose location was used because the suspects could cut through the property to a back road, authorities said.
In one of those cases, police said, Langhorn set up a Nov. 30 meeting for just before midnight, and after showing the victim the phone, accepted $400, then pretended he had to get a SIM card, police said. He dashed to the back of the property and never returned, police said. Langhorn told police he split the cash with his accomplices, according to court documents.
Then, on Dec. 8, Langhorn and three other men stole $350 from a prospective buyer on Mastic Road in Mastic Beach before running off, police said.
On Dec. 31 at the Mastic-Shirley LIRR station, after a victim handed over $500 for a phone, Langhorn shoved him to the ground, police said. When the victim attempted to follow him, Washington threatened to shoot, police said.
At arraignment, an order of protection was issued against Langhorn, of Monroe Street, Mastic, and bail was set at more than $100,000 bond or more than $45,000 cash. His attorney did not return requests for comment Thursday.
Washington, of Brentwood Road, Bay Shore, was held on bail of $75,000 bond or $35,000 cash. His attorney, Steve Fondulis of Port Jefferson, said his client denied being involved: "He told me 'I have a job. I didn't have to rob anybody. I didn't do this.' "