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Man drugged in robbery after answering ad for 'companionship'

TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Police have made an arrest but still seek other suspects after a man was threatened by a pair of men with machetes, drugged and forced to hand over hundreds of dollars in cash.

That crime was committed on May 7, police say, but they got a break in the case on Thursday afternoon when a woman considered a suspect in the robbery failed to pay a cabbie for a ride.

Police say that, back on May 7, a man in his early 20s answered an online ad for "companionship." It's not clear at this point what type of companionship the victim sought. Nor is it clear whether the ad was genuine, or merely a ruse.

The victim was picked up by two females and taken to an apartment. As they approached the building, two men armed with machetes grabbed the victim and tied his hands and legs.

Under threat, the man was forced to provide his bank card and his PIN number. While two of the suspects held the man in the apartment, two others made several purchases at various businesses.

The victim was also told to transfer a couple of thousand dollars to the four assailants.

He further told police that, while being held captive, he was injected with an unknown drug, taken to a bank machine and told to withdraw several hundred dollars more, which he did.

On Thursday, a cab company called police to report that a woman had hired a cab and asked to be simply driven around. Once the bill reached $100, she fled the taxi but was arrested at 10th Street and Victoria.

She was a subject of the earlier robbery investigation.

The 20-year-old Brandon woman was arrested for forcible confinement, robbery with violence and extortion. She was held at jail to appear in court on Friday.

Police still seek three other suspects.

They say there's no evidence at this point linking the earlier robbery to another incident on Thursday in which two people were reportedly threatened by a man with a machete at a business on the 700 block of 10th Street. In that case, a 22-year-old Brandon man was arrested for assault with a weapon and uttering threats.

The robbery is similar to another committed in September 2014 when a man used backpage.com to hire a woman to perform a sex act. He attended an apartment where he was attacked by men, taken to an ATM and forced to withdraw $1,000 cash.

Two men received jail sentences for that crime, while another man remains before the courts.

» The Brandon Sun

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Updated on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 3:47 PM CDT:
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