"Meet Me At…!" - The Dangers of Face To Face Internet Related Transactions
On Sunday, August 11th 2013, at around 5:00 p.m., a 30 year old Phoenix citizen (victim) agreed to meet with an unknown male (suspect) in the parking lot of a gas station in the area of N. 27th Ave. /W. Indian School Rd. The purpose of the meeting was the sale of a piece of jewelry the victim had advertised on an Internet web site. The transaction did not go well, not well at all! The suspect robbed the victim of the jewelry and his wallet at gunpoint. 27 minutes later the suspect attempted to use the victim’s credit and bank card at a convenience store in the same area.
The still photo shows a person if interest using the victim’s credit card, the video shows the suspect and his car, and the victim with the suspect.
On Saturday, August 17, 2013, a 20 year old victim was contacted by a juvenile female who wanted to buy some Jordan shoes that the victim had advertised on an Internet site. The transaction did not go well. The female asked the victim to meet her at a fast food restaurant in the area of S. 99th Ave. /Lower Buckeye. The female looked at the shoes then told the victim she needed some change and would be right back. While the female was talking to the victim, a juvenile male quickly approached and took the shoes from the victim at gunpoint.
On Monday, August 19th, 2013, another victim, 21 years old, was contacted by a juvenile female who wanted to buy Jordan shoes the victim had advertised on an Internet site. The transaction did not go well. The female suspect asked the victim to meet at the same fast food restaurant on S. 99th Ave. to complete the sale. The female looked at the shoes then told the victim she would be right back. As they were talking, a juvenile male ran up to them with a gun. The victim struggled with the male and the female before they fled with the shoes.
Phoenix Police Detectives, using evidence found at the scene and information from the victims, were able to arrest the juveniles on Wednesday, September 4, 2013. The shoes and other evidence related to the robberies were recovered by police. The juveniles were booked into the Juvenile Correction Center for two counts of armed robbery.
On Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 a 21 year old victim had two male suspects come to his home in order to sell the suspects a camera he (victim) had advertised for sale on an Internet site. The transaction did not go well, not well at all! After one of the suspects examined the camera both suspects produced hand guns and robbed the victim of not only the camera, but also a laptop computer.
The Phoenix Police Department is concerned about the dangers of meeting with strangers to complete transactions initiated through Internet contact. We are asking our citizens to take caution in these endeavors and to consider the following guidelines:
Most common items stolen during an Internet based transaction:
- Nike (or other, brand name/high value) shoes
- Smart phones
Precautions to take to avoid becoming a victim of a robbery when buying or selling items from on-line agreements:
- Perform all transactions in a public area with known video surveillance, such as a bank.
- For smaller high value items, perform the transaction inside of a public business like a café.
- Try not to perform transactions at your residence.
- If the item you are selling is too big to reasonably transport to a public location then limit exposure of your residence and other belongings to the buyer.
- Do not accept calls from restricted or blocked numbers.
- Call the number back to ensure it is real.
- Have other people with you during the transaction.
- Trust your instincts…If it does not feel right end the transaction and leave.
- Check with your local police department to see if the item is reported stolen (guns, vehicles and other items with serial numbers). Get the serial number ahead of time. Just asking for the serial number or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) will make a person with a bad motive nervous.
- Perform the transaction in front of a police station or in the immediate area.
- Do not perform a transaction late at night.
- Get the license plate of any vehicle driven by the buyer/seller or any other suspicious vehicle you see. Having too much information is better than having none.
- Be extremely careful when selling high value items.
- Keep your cell phone hidden but readily available as phones are a common item targeted by suspects.
- Tell a friend or family member where you are going.