Doing Transactions with Strangers on the Internet – Krebs on Security

Communities love it Craigslist, OfferUp:, Facebook Marketplace: while others are great for finding cheap or free items that can be picked up directly from a nearby vendor and getting rid of useful things that don’t deserve to end up in the landfill. But when communicating with strangers over the Internet, there’s always the risk that the person you’ve agreed to meet has ulterior motives.

Almost all US states now have designated secure trading stations, mostly at local police stations, which ensure that all transactions take place in plain view of both authorities and security cameras.

These safe places to trade exist because sometimes internet trading deals don’t end well for one or more parties. The site Craigslistkillers Since 2015, there have been at least 132 homicide news links to Craigslist transactions. Many of these murders involved high-value items such as automobiles and consumer electronics, where the would-be buyer apparently intended to kill the owner and steal the item offered for sale. . Others were motivated simply by wanting to hurt people.

This does not mean that using Craigslist is exceptionally risky or dangerous; I am sure that the vast majority of transactions generated by the site end amicably and without physical violence. And that’s probably true of all Craigslist competitors.

Still, the risk of a deal going sour when meeting complete strangers on the Internet is not zero, and so it’s wise to take a few simple precautions. For example, choosing to transact in a designated safe place, such as a police station, dramatically reduces the likelihood that anyone who wants to harm you will even show up.

I recently stumbled across one of these designated exchange sites, so I’m interested in learning more about them. The one I came across was at the Virginia County Sheriff’s Office, and it has two reserved parking spaces with a sign that reads: “Online shopping and sharing location. [image above].

According to the saved list, there are four other such designated locations in Northern Virginia. And it appears many states now have them in at least a few major cities. also has searchable index secure trading locations in the United States and Canada.

Granted, not everyone is going to live near one of these designated trading posts. Or maybe what you want to buy, sell or trade is something you prefer not to be caught on police cameras. In any case, here are some tips to stay safe when doing real-life transactions with internet strangers (compliments of the aforementioned safe trading sites).

The safest exchange points are easily accessible and in a well-lit, public place where transactions are visible to others nearby. Try to arrange a meeting time that takes place during the day and consider bringing a friend, especially when dealing with high-value items such as laptops and smart phones. also advises that the police or merchants who host their own exchange sites will generally not share the details of your transaction unless otherwise stated, and that many (but not all) police departments are willing to verify the transaction. serial number. item for sale to ensure it is not known to be stolen property.

Of course, it’s not always practical or possible to take that old couch to the local police station or that used car that doesn’t work. In those situations, has some worthwhile suggestions.

  • Meet at the police station where you can exchange and copy each other’s identification documents, such as driving licenses. Do not carry cash to this location.
  • Copy the license or ID or use your phone to take a photo of it.
  • Send credentials to a friend or someone you trust (not yourself).
  • If you are selling a home, or buying into someone’s home, never be outdone. If you are at home, make sure you have two or three people there, and tell the visitor that you will have others with you.
  • At home or in the apartment, NEVER let anyone go anywhere unaccompanied. Always make sure they are escorted.
  • Never allow more than one group to come to your house at once to buy or sell.
  • Beware of common scams, such as checks for more than the transaction amount; “Cashier receipts” that are forged and presented at bank closing time.
  • If you are issued a cashier’s check, money order, or other equivalent, call the bank at the number listed online, not the number given to you by the buyer, to verify the validity of the check.

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