Crime

The Facebook ad offered a 50% discount on furniture. About 29 people were defrauded.

Hialeah resident April Garcia defrauded about 29 people of more than $167,000 through a Facebook ad selling discounted furniture, according to police who arrested her.
Hialeah resident April Garcia defrauded about 29 people of more than $167,000 through a Facebook ad selling discounted furniture, according to police who arrested her. Miami-Dade Police Department

About 29 people were defrauded of more than $167,000 and it all started with a Facebook advertisement.

They saw an ad for furniture on sale in March. It offered a deal they couldn’t resist: 50% off modern furniture, according to a report from Miami-Dade police.

When they inquired about the furniture, April Garcia answered them through texts, the report said. She told them that they would need to set up an appointment to see the goods.

Garcia, a 45-year-old Hialeah resident, met with each of about 29 potential buyers outside Updated Furniture Inc., at 4915 NW 159th St., or a Kalorik warehouse, at 1400 NW 159th St., police said.

She told them she was an employee of the companies, both sellers of home products, the report said. She was not.

The manager at Updated Furniture, Javier Fierro, told police that Garcia is not one of the company’s employees, but she is a licensed subcontractor who purchases furniture from the company and sells it back to customers. The company only sells to stores and subcontractors.

While at the locations, she would show them various pieces of furniture, and she negotiated prices with some of the employees at the businesses.

Kalorik released a statement saying that, “April Garcia is not associated with Kalorik in any way nor did we have any knowledge that our parking lot was being utilized for fraudulent activity.”

Each of the buyers chose the furniture they wanted and sat down with Garcia inside the businesses, the report said. She explained how they could pay and when the items would be shipped to their homes. Some paid in cash because she told them it would reduce the cost.

When the delivery day came, they didn’t receive what they paid for, the report said. They tried to call Garcia, but she would change the delivery date. When they called again, her number was no longer in service.

Garcia was arrested at a furniture store on Tuesday. She told police that since 2009 she has been the owner of Furniture Brokers, which went bankrupt and is now closed. Because of this she did not respond to phone calls from customers who gave her money for furniture.

She also told police that the credit card purchases have been refunded to customers and that she is responsible for repaying those who paid cash. However she said she was broke and did not have the money.

Garcia was charged with 29 counts of grand theft and organized fraud. Late Thursday she was still being held in Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a $38,000 bond.

Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, says the company is so big and powerful that it threatens our democracy.

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