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Surrey RCMP caution public after two ‘online marketplace’ attempted robberies, assaults

Police say if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is
Surrey RCMP headquarters. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Surrey RCMP is asking the public to take extra precaution when purchasing items off websites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace after receiving reports of two attempted robberies in the city.

In both instances, an arrangement was made to meet and purchase a PlayStation, police said. The victims arrived at a predetermined location with cash to purchase the item and were assaulted by the suspects. In both cases, the suspects attempted to steal the victim’s cash, but did not succeed.

The rush to buy last-minute Christmas gifts can pose an opportunity for criminals, police said.

“Often people resort to online marketplace applications to buy and sell merchandise that is difficult to locate in stores. Unfortunately, there are criminals who capitalize on people’s desire to get that perfect gift,” police said in a release.

Police say that if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.

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“Goods are often advertised at significantly lower prices than their actual value, which is a tactic used to entice buyers and persuade them into making a deal,” RCMP said in a news release.

Last year, Surrey RCMP investigated 15 reports of personal robberies related to online marketplace applications. As a result, five suspects were charged in connection to a majority of the offences. In almost all of the robberies, the victims reported the deal seeming too good to turn down.

Police offered a series of steps people can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim, including:

• Utilize stalls outside of your local police station for meetings and purchases;

• Insist on a public meeting place during the day, such as local businesses with regular foot traffic;

• Ensure there is camera coverage where you are meeting;

• Gather as much information as possible so you know whom you are dealing with, such as their full name and cell phone number;

• Do not meet in a secluded place or invite strangers into your home;

• Only meet during daylight hours or in a well-lit and heavily populated area;

• Be especially careful when buying or selling high value items;

• Tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you’re meeting the buyer/seller;

• Take your cell phone and a friend along to accompany you; and

• Always trust your instincts while arranging a meeting, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

About the Author: Aaron Hinks

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