Buyers, and sellers beware when it comes to online exchanges

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

There’s a recent, but well-worn joke about how we used to tell people never to get into a car with strangers, and never leave with someone you’ve met on the internet.

Now Lyft and Uber have built giant businesses by getting people to get into cars with strangers they meet through the internet.

Someone turning a simple business transaction into a crime is nothing new, but the advent of online for-sale sites has streamlined the opportunity for mischief.

The Grand Island Police Department reported that a woman meeting someone to sell a cell phone was attacked and robbed at a meeting arranged through Facebook’s Marketplace.

Police hope to use electronic fingerprints from the site’s interaction history to identify the suspect, and let’s hope they do.

The victim said after she met another woman, the supposed buyer, on a Grand Island street, the woman punched her in the stomach, took the phone and drove away.

It stands to reason that such interactions can lead to crime; one person says they’ll arrive with something valuable, the other with cash -- dishonest intent on the part of either can lead to a crime.

The GIPD is urging people to use its Transaction Safe Zone outside the city’s Law Enforcement Center when buying and selling items locally. It has 24-hour surveillance and lighting, with two designated parking stalls for such transactions.

The zone is also useful as a neutral place for other things, such as exchanging children for custody or visitation arrangements.

McCook doesn’t have an exchange location per se, but it’s always good to meet in very public places in the daytime for such interactions.

To expand an old saying, when it comes to online sales, it’s buyer, and seller, beware.

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