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Men dragged Brampton mother by car to steal her son’s Air Jordans, police say

A Brampton mom says she was dragged by a car and seriously injured while trying to help her teenage son sell a pair of high-end sneakers to someone they met on Facebook Marketplace.

WARNING: This story contains graphic images

Vashtie Doorga and her son

A Brampton mom says she was dragged by a car and seriously injured while trying to help her 12-year-old son sell a pair of high-end sneakers to someone they met on Facebook Marketplace.

Vashtie Doorga posted an online ad to sell a pair of Air Jordans in the recently relaunched "Military Blue" colourwayand found an "adamant" customer. The mother and son decided to meet around 7:15 p.m. on June 26 in a residential area near Dixie and Father Tobin roads.

A short time later, Doorga found herself bloodied on a roadway after being dragged by a black Tesla driven by men she didn't know. They had stolen the shoes and left her behind.

"I have a lot of scarring damage and pain that's unbearable. I can't sleep. I can't open a bottle of water myself, I can't wash my hair myself. It burns my body when I have to bathe. I can't drive anymore," Doorga said in tears in an interview with CBC Toronto.

"I'm scared … living in fear."

Vasthie Doorga

Police across the Greater Toronto Area have issued warnings to beware of such frauds. Toronto police recently issued a public warning about Marketplace scams, saying the number of complaints related to the platform reported in the city this year crossed the 500 mark by May, with damages totalling over $800,000.

Marketplace scams are the second most reported frauds, according to statistics released by Toronto police in May.

Even Facebook has listed measures for Marketplace users to recognize scams in its "shopping safety" section.

Men were young, wore expensive clothes: Doorga

Doorga said her son wanted to help her by starting a shoe resale business because she is a single mother.

To surprise her son with his first pair to sell, Doorga says she lined up outside a Nike store at the Bramalea City Centre and got the last available pair of the high-end shoes. She says she wanted the money her son would make from the shoes to go into his first business bank account when he turned 13 in a week.

"It was like Willy Wonka with the golden ticket," she said.

The teen designed a logo for his new business he named "The Real Deal" and posted an ad on his mother's Facebook Marketplace account.

Within two weeks, the pair received messages from a few prospective buyers. One of them, Doorga said, was "adamant."

"I really need it," the man said in Facebook Messenger texts viewed by CBC Toronto.

Doorga said since the man asked to meet after 5 p.m., she assumed he had a job and could pay for the shoes. She decided to meet him outside a home address he provided in the north of Brampton.

Once there, four men, who looked between the ages of 17 and 23, arrived in a black Tesla with black matte rims and parked next to her car, Doorga said. One man stepped out from the backseat to check the shoes, she said, and handed one shoe to another man in the passenger seat to try it on.

Air Jordans ad

Then, he asked for the second shoe and the receipt, she said, adding that she didn't know the value of deadstock shoes — unworn shoes still in their original box — drops when someone wears them. She gave the man the second shoe and the receipt. Her son asked for the shoe back but the men refused to return it, she said.

She says she had a "funny feeling" things were going to go wrong and asked her son to get into the car and pass her the phone.

Moments later, the man jumped back into the car and screamed "Go, go, go!"

Doorga, who uses a cane to walk, says she didn't know what was happening and held on to the door of the men's car, afraid she would fall.

"I thought they were going to stop and it was an accident," she said.

"I grabbed on and then they were kicking me. They were fiddling so I didn't know if they had a gun. I said, 'I'm going to let go' because I don't know what's going to happen. I wanted my son to be safe," she said.

"They dragged me about 40 feet."

Police investigating

Doorga said she sustained internal chest injuries, road burns on her arms and legs, crushed toes, deep tissue damage, a concussion and a deep forehead cut.

Peel Regional Police say they are investigating the incident.

The alleged driver is described as a man wearing a grey and black Nike tech fleece sweater, black pants with the word Toronto written on them and black foam runners at the time of the incident, police said in an email to CBC Toronto.

Police did not provide details of other suspects.

After the incident, Doorga says the men blocked her from viewing their Facebook Marketplace account, which is still active. She couldn't report the account to Facebook but says she has shared screenshots she took of the texts with the police.

A community group gifted her son the same pair of Air Jordans on his 13th birthday last week.

Doorga said she's going public with her story in hope that it will prevent others from going through the same thing as she did.

"It took away what I worked really hard for. Everything. And I don't want them to do this to anyone else," Doorga said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Saloni Bhugra

Reporter | Editor

Saloni Bhugra joined CBC News as a Donaldson Scholar in May 2022. She has since worked with News Network, World Report, World This Hour, and CBC Calgary. Bhugra established a permanent CBC bureau in Lethbridge until she returned to Toronto and started working with Metro Morning. Bhugra is now CBC's Brampton bureau reporter. Contact her by email at Saloni.bhugra@cbc.ca.

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