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Staying Safe When Buying or Selling Online

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Selling a car is something almost all of us have done at some point and there is no doubt it can be a pain. For one Lafayette, CA man, selling his van on Craigslist literally turned into a nightmare.

The man, whom asked not to be identified, claims he’s sold items online many times and he even found the home he rents from Craigslist. He says he’s never had a problem until selling his van.

The victim advertised a van for sale on Craigslist and agreed to meet two men at a nearby convenience store parking lot to show them the van.

After the initial meeting, the victim got into the men’s car for the short ride back to his home so he could show them some extra parts for the van.

One of the men walked up to the home with him. As soon as the 28-year-old victim opened the garage, the man pulled out a gun. The victim told local media, “He told me he was going to kill me. He hit me in the head with the gun; I think they planned to kill me. I’m just lucky.”

The victim says the men stole two necklaces, a watch and his cell phone. After the men got away, he asked a neighbor to call 911. He was taken to the hospital and treated for head injuries.

Police shared surveillance video of the vehicle the two thieves were driving. According to Lafayette Police Chief Eric Christensen, “You have no clue as to who’s on the other side of this internet connection or what their desires and wants are associated with this.”

As for the victim, he hopes these thugs are caught soon and he says he doesn’t plan on conducting business this way again.

The thing is, millions of users buy and sell products, find roommates and look for jobs on Craigslist on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, Craigslist comes with the dangers of interacting with people you don’t truly know. Hundreds of murders have been linked to people using advertisements on Craigslist.

Considering this, I want to share with you some ideas to keep in mind to help you stay safe when buying or selling through these types of platforms, when you don’t know the person you are meeting.

Ask lots of questions before meeting. If you are spending money, you have the right to ask questions and know everything you want to know about the item you are buying.

Consider asking things such as why are they selling the product? Where did it originally come from? In addition, ask questions that an actual user or owner of the item would know.

For instance, ask about the battery life, or mileage per gallon that the vehicle may get. Again, these are questions that a true owner would be able to easily answer.

If they can’t give you the answers, take that as a red flag that it could be a set up. And, never be afraid to offend the person by asking lots of questions.

Research the Seller’s Information. Always meet in a public place. But, if for some reason you can’t, you’ll want their phone number and address.

Once you have that information, you should then search the web looking for anything that looks out of the ordinary. Look up the person’s Facebook page, search their name, phone number and address on Google for anything alarming.

Meet in a public place/ Never go to a secondary location. Criminals don’t want witnesses to their crimes. Therefore, meeting in a public place like a donut shop will go a long way in helping to ensure your safety.

Remember, criminals on are looking for easy targets and they aren’t as likely to rob you in a shop full of witnesses.

In addition, if you arrive at the agreed upon meeting spot and the seller asks you to go to another place or follow him somewhere, this should clearly raise some concerns.

The seller should bring the item with them. There is no reason for you to go to another location.

Show up early/ never go alone. If you are meeting at a local shop, get there early to watch for the seller to arrive.

What I mean is, if the seller arrives and goes in and out of the shop or talks to someone sitting in another car, you could be the victim of set up.

Also, always try to take another person with you. There is safety in numbers, and it’s much more difficult to attack or rob two people compared to one.

Lastly, when selling or buying something online the most important thing to remember is if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

In other words, if someone is selling a new iPhone for pennies, there obviously a good chance it’s a set up. On the other hand, if someone offers you an extra hundred dollars on an item, be leery of why they would over pay on your asking price.

Finally, no matter where you go to meet someone always have some sort of self-defense weapon such as a gun or at least a tactical pen.

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