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Officials offer Craigslist safety tips after woman is robbed in meet-up

On Saturday, a woman was robbed after she met up with another person she met on Craigslist to buy and sell video games.

He ended up showing up without the games and robbed her instead.

The meet-up highlights the risks of using the online site, especially around the holiday season when people turn to the Internet for gifts.

Scammers do step up their game around the holidays,” said Detective Tom O’Sullivan, with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

He said while you can’t always prevent a transaction from going wrong, you can still take as many safety precautions as you can.

“The thing I would recommend is only buy locally, meet in person with the seller or the buyer in a public place,” he said.

ABC17 reached out to Craigslist users to see how they keep themselves safe from scammers or criminal activity.

One woman, Renee, said she isn’t an expert at the site, but is wary of the people she meets on it.

“[I’m] talking with them, communicating with them several times about how we’re going to meet,” she said. “I’m a pretty good judge of character when I’m talking to people.”

O’Sullivan also warns against sending or receiving money unless it’s in person.

He said red flags should go up if a person wants personal information.

“Wiring money, that’s a no-no,” he said.

Craigslist user Renee said she has only sold a few things on the site, but she did get targeted by a scammer who wanted to send her money for an item.

“He wanted to have my name, and my address and phone and all that so he could send me the money,” she said. “I said no.”

She said he was also pushy and kept trying to get her to commit. O’Sullivan identified this as another red flag.

He also mentioned grammatically incorrect messages with lots of misspellings are often signs of a scam as well.

When you do go to meet someone, O’Sullivan recommends a place where there’s a lot of activity and bring someone with you.

“Someone with criminal intent is not going to want to meet in a public place,” he said. “If it’s a legitimate buyer or a legitimate seller, they’re going to have no problem meeting in a public place.”

Renee said she meets buyers in a public place. Once, she met someone at a local restaurant.

“I know the people who own it and I know a lot of people that go in there,” she said. “They know me so if something weird would have happened they would have seen me.”

Most police stations are a safe place to meet and the Columbia Police Department lobby is available for those buying and selling things through the Internet.

Craigslist also provides a few tips on how to stay safe and how to avoid getting scammed.

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