A man accused of selling fake phones to unsuspecting people in Alpharetta and Dunwoody is out on bond after being chased down by an unhappy customer following a transaction in a Target parking lot, authorities said.
According to Roswell police, an officer and her recruit were on patrol when they were flagged down by a man who told them he was robbed by the driver of the car in front of theirs.
The robbery occurred after he and a friend arranged to buy a new iPhone from someone they met on the “OfferUp” app, police said in a news release.
After handing over $640, the man noticed his new phone was “displaying foreign characters and glitching,” police said. When he asked for his money back, the seller refused, allegedly flashing a handgun and threatening to shoot him if he didn’t back away.
The suspect left the parking lot, but the men followed him, Roswell police spokesman Officer Sean Thompson said. When he got stuck in traffic, one of the victims got out and confronted him in an attempt to “cause a scene so someone would call 911.”
As he approached the man’s vehicle, however, the suspect reportedly pointed a gun at him a second time before driving away. Determined to get his money back, the man followed the suspect again, pointing him out to officers at the intersection of West Crossville Road and Foxberry Lane.
A “high-risk” traffic stop was conducted and police arrested 23-year-old James Stovall Ruffin of Cumming. Inside Ruffin’s car, officers discovered a loaded pistol and $640 in cash, police said in a news release. They also found several iPhones and iPhone boxes.
According to investigators, Ruffin was placing ads online and selling fake phones across metro Atlanta. At the time of his arrest, he was wanted in Roswell and suspected in similar cases in Dunwoody and Alpharetta, authorities said.
He was charged last month with armed robbery, computer theft, theft by deception and possession of a firearm during the commission of certain felonies, jail records show. Ruffin was released six days later after posting a $17,500 bond.
In a Facebook post, police encouraged residents to meet in public places or at police stations when conducting transactions.
“One way to make sure you aren't scammed out of your hard-earned money is to set your meeting place to a police department,” the post said. “If a seller or buyer refuses to meet you there, there’s your sign.”
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