Thursday, January 23, 2014

Purchasing Online Could be Dangerous

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office would like to ensure the public is aware that robberies do occur at times when purchasing items found on the web when meeting in person.  Extreme caution should always be used if you plan to meet someone you don’t know from sites such as Craigslist or Backpage.

If you’re going to buy something from an online site, there are safety precautions you should take:

1.     Check out the seller’s information: Ask for a phone number and an address. Take that information, and check the names of the seller online to find out who you are dealing with.

2.     Ask a lot of questions: Ask as many questions as you can before going to buy the product. If the seller can’t answer your questions, there is a good chance that he doesn’t actually have the product and could be setting you up.

3.     Don’t buy from sellers who only list an email address: This should be a red flag that the seller has something to hide.

4.     Meet in a public place – Criminals don’t want witnesses; meeting in a public place like a coffee shop or cafe can help ensure your safety. Most of the criminals on Craigslist are looking for an easy target and are not very likely to rob you in a cafe full of people.

5.     If it sounds too good to be true it probably is: A lot of these scams are pretty easy to spot. If the deal sounds too good to be true you are better off passing it up.

6.     Never go to a second location – If you arrive at the predetermined meeting place and the seller asks to go to another place, this should raise some serious red flags.

7.     Don’t go alone.

8.     Show up early: If you are meeting in a public location, show up early and scope out the area.

Watch for the seller and make sure everything looks legit. If you have even the slightest concern that something seems out of place, trust your instincts and leave.

Since January, we have had at least 3 cases, 2 of which were robberies where firearms were used and in 1 case, shots were fired.

Lt. Lewis Blanchard of the Operations Division.

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