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Illegal resale of rental cars discovered in Southern California’s online shopping scam

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In Southern California, officials are warning of a new Facebook Marketplace scam that left several victims not only down a significant chunk of change, but also without the secondhand vehicle they thought they purchased.

This week, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department arrested three suspects in the scheme that sold rented vehicles illegally on Facebook’s popular shopping platform for used goods.

The suspects are accused of renting an undisclosed number of vehicles, then selling them to buyers for cash. The suspects allegedly supplied the buyers with cloned keys and fake vehicle paperwork, according to a press release from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

After the transactions, the suspects followed the victims and stole back the vehicles, when they then returned to the rental agency — making off with the cash. Detectives said the scam occurred several times across multiple counties in Southern California. The suspects were not immediately identified.

Sheriff’s officials said they are looking for additional victims who may have purchased a vehicle from the suspects, asking anyone involved to call the Taskforce for Regional Autotheft Prevention at (800) 299-8727.

As scams on Facebook Marketplace continue to rise and become more complicated, digital professionals warn users to take extra care when making any transaction.

To ensure safe purchases, cyber safety network Gen, which owns and operates Norton and LifeLock brands, recommends users follow their seven self-protection tips when using Facebook Marketplace or similar secondhand shopping platforms.

  • Keep all communication within Facebook Marketplace.
  • Pay using a verified form of payment via Facebook Checkout — never use an outside payment app such as PayPal or Venmo.
  • Make sure the seller’s Facebook profile is real before you buy — avoid new accounts and accounts with no profile picture.
  • When selling goods, decline overpayments and request the correct amount instead.
  • Keep your personal information safe — never give out personal information such as your phone number, credit card or bank account numbers, or Social Security number.
  • Walk away from a deal that sounds too good to be true — it probably is.
  • Never click a suspicious link or complete a transaction on an external website.
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Customers should also look out for deals that look suspiciously cheap, sellers who ask for a deposit or offers from a Facebook profile with no friends or limited activity.

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Immigration in Maine Addressing Labor Shortage Could Set Trend for U.S.

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A significant labor gap in Maine’s lobster industry is being filled by immigrants, shedding light on the critical role that foreign-born workers are likely to play in the U.S. economy as the native-born population ages. Maine, known for its abundant lobster population, is grappling with an aging workforce that is increasingly unable to sustain the demands of the thriving lobster industry, valued at $1 billion.

Ben Conniff, a founder of Luke’s Lobster, underscores the importance of immigrants in sustaining the natural resources economy of the state, as many native-born workers are not inclined towards manufacturing work in food processing. Since its establishment in 2013, Luke’s Lobster has heavily relied on immigrants to staff its lobster processing plant, highlighting the vital role played by foreign-born workers in filling labor gaps.

With Maine boasting the oldest population in the U.S., with a median age of 45.1, the state offers a glimpse into the economic future of America, where immigrants are poised to be a crucial source of new workers and economic vitality in the coming years.

As immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country, the influx of immigrants has been instrumental in boosting the American economy’s potential. The Congressional Budget Office has revised upwards its population and economic growth projections for the next decade, attributing the growth to the wave of newcomers entering the workforce.

Maine’s initiatives to attract and integrate immigrants into the workforce, such as the creation of an Office of New Americans, reflect the state’s proactive approach towards addressing labor shortages. Private companies like Luke’s Lobster have also taken steps to diversify and supplement the aging lobster fishing industry by training immigrants and minorities in lobster fishing and licensing processes.

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Chadai Gatembo, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, exemplifies the success story of immigrants finding opportunities in Maine. Despite facing challenges on his journey to the U.S., Gatembo is now on the path to becoming a full-fledged lobsterman, showcasing the potential for immigrants to thrive in new industries.

The influx of immigrants is not without its challenges, with issues of work authorization and economic stability confronting many newcomers. Adriana Hernandez, a mother of four from Venezuela, highlights the economic hardship faced by immigrants awaiting work permits, underscoring the barriers faced by unauthorized workers in integrating into the labor market.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of immigration on the U.S. economy is significant. Immigrants have helped to bolster job growth, insulate the economy against downturns, and contribute to a more diverse and innovative workforce. Economists predict that immigration will play a crucial role in addressing labor shortages and demographic shifts as the native-born population ages.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like Chenda Chamreoun, who has risen from lobster cleaning to a quality assurance supervisor and now aims to start her own catering business, showcases the economic potential of foreign-born workers. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial, adding to the innovation and productivity of the American economy.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting from New York, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.

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