Man Gets Scammed $15,000 Selling a Rolex on Facebook Marketplace


A Quebec man felt confident selling his luxury Rolex to a buyer he connected with on Facebook Marketplace after watching him count out the bills out on his kitchen counter. But hours later, he realized he had been duped with a “sleight-of-hand” trick and that the envelope he had been handed was filled with coupon clippings, not cash.

Laurent Mattel, who lives in a suburb north of Montreal, said in a radio interview via CBC News that he felt his legs “turn to jelly” when he realized that the stranger had long-since disappeared with both his money and his Rolex Datejust 41 watch. And sure enough, the Facebook profile that the buyer had used, who went by the name “Marius,” was likewise deactivated shortly after the transaction.

“He told me he wanted to buy my watch to treat his wife. I didn’t suspect a thing,” Mattel explained about the incident, which occurred back in November. “He lets me take out the money and he takes back the envelope. I count out $15,000 in $100 bills. I even make little bundles of $1,000 on the counter.”

“Then [Marius] picks up the money and puts it back in the envelope,” he continued. “He puts the rubber band back around the envelope and hands it to me.”

Mattel said that the man was so sneaky that he even made sure that a $100 bill was still visible through the clear window of the envelope when he handed it to him, ensuring that he would think nothing out of the ordinary. “I came undone. I really felt the heat, thinking to myself, ‘I’ve been had,'” he recalled. 

Apparently, Mattel was just one of several victims of a “criminal magician or magicians” who have been accused of a rash of similar thefts, per a CBC investigation.

What came next was a months-long fight with Mattel’s insurance company, which initially agreed to compensate him $10,000 for the watch and then backtracked, claiming that he had been a victim of fraud, not theft.

“I was told that, in the end, the legal department was refusing to pay because I voluntarily handed over my watch,” Mattel said. “I felt like I’d been robbed a second time by my own insurer. If I’d known there were papers in the envelope, would I have handed over my watch? No.”

Eventually, his insurance company agreed to the payout, but Mattel—who is still out $5,000 even after insurance—is still hoping to get his Rolex back. “I tell myself that the universe takes care of everything,” he said. “I hope that my little belief in the universe will reward me one day.”

These types of scams are unfortunately becoming increasingly common, and sometimes the thieves can become violent.

Earlier this year, a Long Island man physically jumped on the hood of a would-be buyer’s car in a Facebook Marketplace transaction gone awry, after the man tried driving off without paying him the $8,000 they had negotiated. Despite risking life and limb, the alleged criminal got away with the Rolex in that incident, as well.

Cristian Fatu, the owner of Time Merchants, a luxury watch boutique in Montreal, told the CBC News that those thinking of selling luxury items on Facebook Marketplace or similar platforms such as Craigslist should consider carrying out the transaction at a police station or with the help of a jeweler or other intermediary.

“If there is a theft, you should register it directly with Rolex and the local police,” Fatu said. “If you have a serial number and the watch is found, you may recover it, but the chances are slim.”

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