#FraudFriday- Meeting up to Buy/Sell Stuff through an App in a Busy Public Place? You Can Still be a Victim!

#FraudFriday- Meeting up to Buy/Sell Stuff through an App in a Busy Public Place? You Can Still be a Victim!

On Monday, June 25th, 2018, at approximately 5:30 PM, a Santa Clarita man met with another male in order to sell his old cellphone. The two connected with each other on a social media application/website where items are sold/bought/and traded. Eventually, they agreed to meet in a public place in Canyon Country. 
Then things went wrong. The male “buyer” pushed the victim and ran past a security gate with the victim’s cellphone. As the victim gave chase, another male quickly slammed the gate shut blocking the victim’s path. The two males suspected of setting up this robbery then fled with the victim’s cell phone.

The following day, the victim came to Santa Clarita Station and provided information to detectives that led them to believe one of the suspects may be trying to sell the stolen cellphone on the same social media website and in the same area.

Due to the victim’s detailed description of the first suspect, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Special Assignment Team (SAT Team) and assisting detectives were able to locate and arrest the suspect on June 28th, 2018. They learned the male was a juvenile and the victim’s cellphone was recovered. The other male subject was later arrested and this case is an on-going investigation.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station personnel did a great job of locating these subjects, but what can you do to avoid being victimized? 
Outside of many local LASD stations, there are clearly marked Safe Exchange Zones set up for online buyers/sellers to meet. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s has two such Zones, which are painted green, have signs posted designating them as a “Safe Exchange Location” and are under video surveillance. Most criminals do not want to commit crimes at the police department, as they know victims are just steps away from help. Call your local station to see if they have one. What else can you do to reduce the risk of becoming a victim?

• Review buyer and seller profiles before making a transaction 
• Only communicate with strangers only through the app, don’t exchange phone numbers or text
• Use a Safe Exchange Zone at your local Sheriff’s station or police station
• If you have to do a transaction at a private location, bring a friend or family member and be aware of your surroundings
• Trust your instincts, if you feel unsafe, cancel the meet up!