Online marketplace Letgo sued over Denver-area murders


By Thomas Peipert, The Associated Press

Online marketplace Letgo is facing a wrongful death lawsuit after parents of five children were shot and robbed while using the app to try to buy a used SUV in suburban Denver in 2020.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court on behalf of victims’ family claims Letgo, which was acquired by OfferUp, was negligent because it allowed the alleged shooter to become a “verified seller” by using a false name and despite his criminal history.

The lawsuit, which also names OfferUp as a defendant, argues that while Letgo says it is working with law enforcement to keep its tens of millions of users safe, the only requirement to become a “verified seller” is an address. functional email.

“The Letgo app creates the illusion that these alleged ‘verified’ accounts can and should be trusted above their competition in the online ‘market’,” according to the lawsuit. “However, it has become increasingly clear that Letgo misrepresents itself as a safe online marketplace for verified sellers without having any kind of legitimate verification process.”

A spokesperson for OfferUp, based in Bellevue, Wash., said Thursday it was investigating the lawsuit but declined to comment further.

The Letgo app was integrated into a similar OfferUp app shortly after the Colorado shootings, but still exists independently outside of the United States.

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In August 2020, Joseph Roland was looking for a vehicle for his teenage daughter and found a Toyota RAV4 advertised by a “verified seller” on Letgo named James Worthy, who was actually an 18-year-old named Kyree Brown. Roland agreed to meet Brown in a parking lot near a mall in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

“What was supposed to be a short and safe transaction via Letgo – turned into a tragic nightmare,” according to the lawsuit, which comes as law enforcement across the country encourages buyers and sellers to meet in safer places like police station car parks. .

When Roland and his wife, Jossline, arrived, Brown told them he had accidentally brought the wrong vehicle title and asked the couple to meet him elsewhere, according to the lawsuit.

They agreed and followed the man to the address, “unsuspecting any danger, since James Worthy was a ‘verified seller’ of Letgo,” the lawsuit said.

Brown is accused of firing a handgun and shooting the couple dead after Joseph Roland tried to dispose of the gun. Investigators say the teenager then fled with the $3,000 in cash the Rolands had brought with them to pay for the SUV, which had been reported stolen days before the Aug. 14, 2020, encounter.

Brown was arrested about two weeks after the shooting and charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

“It is outrageous conduct that Letgo led customers to believe the app had a legitimate verification process when any user (not to mention Mr Brown – who had a criminal record) could use fictitious names. and sell stolen vehicles as ‘verified’ by simply providing an email address,” the lawsuit states.

He also argues that if Letgo had stricter check policies in place, it wouldn’t have taken police two weeks to track down the suspect.

In the “Terms of Use” section of OfferUp’s website, the company encourages third-party hangouts such as police stations to be placed in well-lit and busy areas with surveillance cameras, but claims that Users acknowledge that there are risks when buying and selling in an Internet-based marketplace.

“It is possible that other users may attempt to physically harm you or defraud you or obtain information from you for fraudulent purposes,” the terms read, which also notes that OfferUp does not investigate or check background. criminals of no user.

In addition to negligence, Thursday’s lawsuit accuses Letgo and OfferUp of fraud, misrepresentation, and deceptive and unfair business practices. He seeks damages to be determined by a jury.

Jossline Roland worked for the law offices of Dianne Sawaya in Denver. This office filed the complaint with Geragos & Geragos, another Los Angeles-based company.

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