Teen robbers lured unsuspecting victims into terrifying knifepoint attacks after they’d agreed to buy or sell iPhones on Facebook Marketplace.
One victim feared he was going to be killed after he had a knife held to his throat, while a pregnant woman was caught up in one horror attack.
Ringleader Nana Vandevelde, 19, who said he plotted the robberies to pay off a drugs debt, has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.
Another robber, Zane Arshad, was locked up for four years and six months.
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Facebook profiles were set up under fake names to entice people.
Victims were attacked and threatened with knives, and a man and his pregnant wife were chased down the street by a machete wielding robber.
The robbery spree occurred in September and October 2020, with Vandevelde being involved in another similar attack the following year.
The first victim had found a profile on Facebook which claimed to be selling an iPhone 11, prosecutor Geoff Whelan told Manchester Crown Court.
The victim agreed to swap his phone for the iPhone 11 and £100 in cash, with the meeting being held in Gorton.
After they met, Vandevelde took a knife from his pocket and ordered him to ‘give me the money, give me the money’.
He put it to the man’s neck and warned him: “If you don’t give me the phone I will cut your neck.”
Vandevelde and another man left with the cash and phone. The victim later said he feared he was going to ‘lose his life over his phone and a bit of money’.
About two weeks later, Vandevelde struck again.
The next victim had posted an advert for an iPhone 11 for sale on Facebook Marketplace, and agreed to meet in Gorton.
But when he arrived, he got the impression that something was not right.
Vandevelde grabbed the door to the victim’s car and demanded ‘get it out’.
A second attacker pulled out a kitchen knife and slashed at the victim’s friend, who had accompanied him to the meet, but missed and instead hit a seat in the vehicle.
They drove off and were able to get away.
A few days later, another meet was arranged in Longsight, after a victim had posted an iPhone 11 for sale, for £500.
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Again the victim felt something was not right, and asked to see cash before he handed over the device.
Vandevelde showed a ‘bundle of notes’ which appeared to be less than the fee agreed.
Arshad produced a knife and pointed it at the victim’s friend.
The victims gave up the phone and then drove off at speed.
Then five days later, another advert on Facebook Marketplace lured in a further victim.
A man and his wife agreed to meet in Gorton to buy an iPhone for £680.
One robber produced a ‘machete’ and the couple were told to ‘go, go, run away’.
The woman screamed in terror as they were chased by Vandevelde, who waved the fearsome machete.
About two weeks later, another victim was set upon.
He had agreed to sell an iPhone 11 and a meeting was scheduled to take place in Longsight.
The victim, who came with his teenage brother, was attacked and punched.
Another robber, 18-year-old Ayomide Schwan, helped lure the victim to this robbery, and Arshad was also present.
Five months later, in February last year, Vandevelde was involved in another similar robbery.
The victim, a photographer, saw an iPhone 12 Pro Max for sale on Facebook Marketplace, and agreed to pay £850 for it and meet in Gorton.
At the meet he asked to see the phone, but was shown one which didn’t match the advert description.
Vandevelde then demanded he hand over money, with the victim saying he’d have to go to a cash machine.
Vandevelde, who was with another robber, then produced a knife and put it to his body, demanding cash.
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He was punched to the face, and his ankle was stamped on when he was knocked over.
The thieves fled in his Mercedes, which also contained expensive photography equipment. In total he had £24,000 worth of goods stolen, which he hasn’t been able to claim back for on insurance.
The robberies were Vandevelde’s idea in order to repay a drug debt, his barrister said.
Vandevelde, who was previously jailed for 19 months for conspiring to supply heroin and crack cocaine, is remorseful and wants to turn his life around, the court heard.
Vandevelde, of Penroyson Close, Gorton pleaded guilty to five counts of robbery, and one count of attempted robbery.
Arshad, of Slade Grove, Longsight was previously jailed for four years and six months after pleading guilty to two counts of robbery.
Schwan, of Mulgrove Walk, Blackley admitted one count of robbery. He was sentenced to 22 months suspended for two years.
After the hearing, DC Leon Cawley-Bowyer, of GMP’s Operation Valiant, said: “This group are calculated and manipulative, planning their robberies in advance and using fake online profiles to deceive their victims into meeting with them and even threatening a number of their victims at knifepoint.
“This behaviour will absolutely not be tolerated in Greater Manchester and our Operation Valiant Team is committed to stopping offending such as this and investigating all offences thoroughly to ensure that offenders such as these face the consequences for their actions.
“Hopefully today’s sentencing gives these men the time they need to reflect on their actions and the terror that they put their innocent victims through in order to profit from their own selfishness.”