Charlotte-Mecklenburg police had a message Wednesday for Charlotte-area consumers: Keep your guard up when buying or selling online.
Police say they’ve noticed an increase in crime across the area surrounding the use of apps or online sites to buy, sell or trade.
Sites such as Craigslist, LetGo, VarageSale and OfferUp have become increasingly popular as sellers look to unload unnecessary items and buyers hunt for a deal. But these online transactions also can lead to crime.
OfferUp has drawn the bulk of the local criminal activity – 52 cases since the first of the year, says Capt. Brian Foley, commander of CMPD’s University City Division.
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The total includes:
▪ 18 flim-flam larcenies and other thefts.
▪ 15 false pretense/fraud/forgery cases, including the use of counterfeit money.
▪ 10 armed robberies.
▪ 5 larcenies from automobiles
▪ 1 vehicle theft and 1 aggravated assault.
Foley says some of the cases are related, and eight arrests have been made.
CMPD’s advice: Be vigilant, and avoid risky situations such as these:
▪ ”Too good to be true” sales of phones, electronics or expensive shoes at significant savings.
▪ Any transaction where the exchange of money or merchandise takes place at sunset or after dark.
▪ Meetings where you’re asked to go to an unfamiliar – and potentially unsafe – location.
▪ Going solo. Take a friend along and have them film the transaction with a cellphone, police advise. Or leave a driver in the car with the motor running, just in case a quick escape becomes necessary.
▪ Handing over an expensive item or cash without verifying the identity of the other guy first.
▪ Unlocking a cellphone when handing it to a potential buyer for inspection.
CMPD also makes this offer: Use the nearest police department parking lot when you’re doing business with someone you don’t know.