Police offer tips to avoid Craigslist scams – Chicago Tribune

It’s common for people to be worried about being taken advantage of when buying or selling things on Craigslist.
The website is very hands-off in monitoring its transactions. Its terms of service specify it’s not liable for any harm resulting from user content or illegal conduct and that people using the website are arranging transactions at their own risk.
While these legal disclaimers might initially make people uncomfortable, coming across a listing for a vintage stained-wood writing desk and matching chair for $325 is often a deal too good to not at least seriously consider.
Because of this, there’s a growing national trend of police stations allowing their lobbies to be used as “safe havens” for completing online transactions.
“We don’t have a specific policy in place but we’ve had a practice for many, many years of citizens using the lobby as a safe place to handle any type of transaction,” said Oak Park Police Cmdr. LaDon Reynolds. “Any type of situation where a citizen feels they may need or want the police nearby.”
He added that Oak Park police want residents to know they can come to the police station lobby, as the facility is for everyone in the community.
“We have an open-door policy regarding that,” he said.
Reynolds also recommends people who purchase things online consider using other types of websites, like eBay, that have a have means of verifying an individual seller.
“Whenever possible, I would say do your due diligence and make sure the seller is valid and has conducted transactions in the past and has a favorable rating,” said Reynolds. “In situations where that’s not possible I would say take the opportunity to take that extra step and try to have the transaction at a police station. And don’t exchange any personal information online.”
Another tip is to not enter a vehicle with a buyer or seller or to meet at the agreed handoff place with large sums of money, said Glen Czernik, a crime prevention officer with the River Forest Police Department.
“From my experience, the people who are usually robbed in these types of transactions are usually the buyers of really expensive items because they arrive with large amounts of cash,” he said.
Czernik went on to say the “Personal Safety” page on Craigslist also has some pretty solid tips, like insisting on meeting at a public place, not inviting strangers into your home and telling a friend or family member where you’re going.
While he said River Forest police aren’t offering their lobby for the completion of online transactions, he did recommend making sure the meet is held at a place that has video surveillance cameras and lots of witnesses in case something goes wrong.
“And have options for help besides a cellphone, because often those can be stolen during a bad transaction as well,” he said.
Copyright © 2023, Chicago Tribune


Leave a Comment