September 9, 2022

Communities like Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace and others are great for finding low- or no-cost stuff that one can pick up directly from a nearby seller, and for getting rid of useful things that don’t deserve to end up in a landfill. But when dealing with strangers from the Internet, there is always a risk that the person you’ve agreed to meet has other intentions.

Nearly all U.S. states now have designated safe trading stations — mostly at local police departments — which ensure that all transactions are handled in plain view of both the authorities and security cameras.

These safe trading places exist because sometimes in-person transactions from the Internet don’t end well for one or more parties involved. The website Craigslistkillers has catalogued news links for at least 132 murders linked to Craigslist transactions since 2015. Many of these killings involved high-priced items like automobiles and consumer electronics, where the prospective buyer apparently intended all along to kill the owner and steal the item offered for sale. Others were motivated simply by a desire to hurt people.

This is not to say that using Craigslist is uniquely risky or dangerous; I’m sure the vast majority of transactions generated by the site end amicably and without physical violence. And that probably holds true for all of Craigslist’s competitors.

Still, the risk of a deal going badly when one meets total strangers from the Internet is not zero, and so it’s only sensible to take a few simple precautions. For example, choosing to transact at a designated safe place such as a police station dramatically reduces the likelihood that anyone wishing you harm would even show up.

I recently stumbled upon one of these designated exchange places by accident, hence my interest in learning more about them. The one I encountered was at a Virginia county sheriff’s office, and it has two parking spots reserved with a sign that reads, “Internet Purchase & Exchange Location: This Area is Under 24 Hour Video Surveillance” [image above].

According to the list maintained at Safetradestations.com, there are four other such designated locations in Northern Virginia. And it appears most states now have them in at least some major cities. Safeexchangepoint.com also has a searchable index of safe trading locations in the United States and Canada.

Granted, not everyone is going to live close to one of these designated trading stations. Or maybe what you want to buy, sell or trade you’d rather not have recorded in front of police cameras. Either way, here are a few tips on staying safe while transacting in real life with strangers from the Internet (compliments of the aforementioned safe trading websites).

The safest exchange points are easily accessible and in a well-lit, public place where transactions are visible to others nearby. Try to arrange a meeting time that is during daylight hours, and consider bringing a friend along — especially when dealing with high-value items like laptops and smart phones.

Safeexchangepoint.com also advises that police or merchants that host their own exchange locations generally won’t get involved in the details of your transaction unless specified otherwise, and that many police departments (but not all) are willing to check the serial number of an item for sale to make sure it’s not known to be stolen property.

Of course, it’s not always practical or possible to haul that old sofa to the local police department, or a used car that isn’t working. In those situations, safetradestations.com has some decent suggestions:

  • Meet at a police station where you can exchange and photocopy each others’ identification papers, such as a driver’s license. Do NOT carry cash to this location.
  • Photocopy the license or identification paper, or use your phone to photograph it.
  • Email the ID information to a friend, or to someone trusted (not to yourself).
  • If you’re selling at home, or going to someone’s home, never be outnumbered. If you’re at home, make sure you have two or three people there — and tell the person who is coming that you will have others with you.
  • At home or an apartment, NEVER let someone go anywhere unaccompanied. Always make sure they are escorted.
  • Never let more than one group come to your home at one time to buy or sell.
  • Beware of common scams, like checks for an amount higher than the amount of the deal; “cashier’s checks” that are forged and presented when the bank is closed.
  • If you are given a cashier’s check, money order or other equivalent, call the bank — at the number listed online, not a number the buyer gives you — to verify the validity of the check.

93 thoughts on “Transacting in Person with Strangers from the Internet

  1. Steve Nelson

    Thank you Brian. Good article. There is a grammatical error in the 1st sentence of paragraph 3.

    Reply
    1. Phil

      Let me fix your grammatical errors, Steve.

      First: “Thank you, Brian.”

      Second: The sentence “Good article.” is an incomplete sentence.

      Reply
  2. BozoTheClown

    One thing I’ve done is if I’m going to a stranger’s place to buy something is to let a friend/relative know the address and if I don’t reach back out in 30 minutes that I’m presumed dead and they should call the police.

    Reply
  3. Ron

    Craigslist was a pretty good resource in its early days, but there are so many problems with it and other local type sales and exchange in person sites that it’s like heading into the crime jungle trying to sell anything. Scams abound, your contact info gets harvested for spam, there is always someone out there trying to separate you from your bank account. Every item I have put on CL for the last 10 years has invited phone calls or emails that only come from scammers. FB marketplace is full of what looks like a good deal on a large item, that turns out to be a another scam and the ad is repeated in multiple cities with the exact same ad. I quit using it for all of these reasons.

    Reply
    1. Phil

      I’ve been noticing that if I reply to craigslist inquiries without including any contact info that bypasses the CL mail relay, that I’m getting very few callbacks

      I’m starting to get the idea that it’s not a good idea to make use of phone numbers whenever a buyer contacts me with their number. They must first prove that they’re not just harvesting active phone numbers for resale

      Reply
    2. Nope nope nope

      “your contact info gets harvested for spam”
      Nope. Craigslist uses their own email proxy service so unless
      you spam a real email outside of that no one else will see it.
      For maybe a decade or so.

      User error is (common, but) user error regardless of platform.
      If listing a phone number that’s a deliberate choice to add it.
      Basic-savvy people can screen for legit buyers via email easily
      without giving up a single bit of personal information until sure.
      At some point if you can’t figure out if a buyer is real or a scam,
      that’s on you regardless of platform, but your information need
      not be harvested by anyone in that process on craigslist.
      Debunked.

      Reply
  4. Les Johnson

    I’m sure this article is factually accurate, but it just inspires more nutty fear in Americans who are already overflowing with irrational terror of all sorts of ridiculous things, while not paying attention to the things that really are likely to kill them.

    Anecdote: I’ve done dozens, scores, maybe hundreds of craigslist transactions. I’ve met a couple of unpleasant people.

    Anecdote: I have numerous relatives and others who won’t “do craigslist” because it’s “dangerous.” Yup, that’s a pretty small sampling–but I’ll bet there are many, many, may Americans out there with the same fear.

    Meanwhile, every day Americans drive all over everywhere on a whim, making frequent stops at their favorite fast food chain to get a couple bacon extra cheese extra special arteriosclerosis burgers (with extra bacon), never exercise, can’t sleep without pills, are constantly stressed, smoke, drink too much, pop pain-killers like candy…

    In America every year: way over 500,000 dead from heart disease (with extra bacon), 480,000+ dead from smoking, 30,000+ dead in car accidents… need I list more?

    Craigslist deaths since 2015: 17-18 per year

    You’ve got about a 2.3x higher chance of getting killed by lightning than you do doing craigslist.

    It’s true though: your chances of getting killed by using craigslist are NEARLY 35% HIGHER than being crushed by a vending machine! EGADS!

    Reply
    1. Taylor

      As someone who grew up in Europe, I never met a people as scared as Americans.

      Reply
        1. SeymourB

          And yet your guns are exactly why you’re scared. It’s a catch-22 with a death sentence.

          Reply
          1. Santa

            no, it’s the people without morals, that grew up without parents. Who were/are on legal meth (Adderall) that reduces/eliminates empathy. making them more prone to being willing to hurt others. Guns make news, but more people are murdered with cars than guns. If it wasn’t for the guns, there would be far more murders rapes and such. The ledger is readily available by checking status of these crimes where guns are legal compared to not. I know many gun owners, don’t know anyone that has ever shot a person (outside of war), just paper.

            Reply
            1. Iris Rand

              People aren’t “murdered” with cars. The purpose of a car is transportation, and because of distractions, people are killed accidentally with cars.
              The purpose of a gun is to inflict fatal wounds to another.

              The “stats” also disprove your theory. Countries where guns are really illegal or difficult to attain, violent crime is much lower. If you’re talking about states and cities within the US where guns are technically are not legal, then you have to realize that a state-line is not a border and there is no way to keep guns out since neighboring states will allow them to flood in.
              Do you think Chicago produces the guns that come in? Do you think Illinois can enforce gun free zones at the state line?

              Reply
              1. sanata

                yep, looked it up, in 2017 guns past cars as murder weapons, guess I need to review stats (that change) before posting. Congratulations, you win, that.
                So you think the world is safer without people owning guns. Congratulations, you live in a better location than most. Good luck in you life in Portland.

                Reply
                1. Iris Rand

                  Canada is indeed safer. Whether Portland Maine or Portland Oregon in the United states, guns from Texas can easily be driven with no checks or control.
                  At least in Canada, someone would have to smuggle them through customs and border patrol. Which is why there are far fewer guns here and the ones that do make it are much more expensive.
                  For that, yes we are safer.

                  Reply
            2. nope nope nope

              Nope cars are not used in murders more than guns. Debunked.
              Guns have surpassed all other means in deaths of US children.

              “If it wasn’t for the guns, there would be far more murders rapes and such.”
              NRA BS donor envelope is in the mail. Anecdotes are not information.

              Reply
      1. Daniel D.Teoli Jr.

        Believe me Bub, we need to be scared. If there were no guns, or fear from self-defense with guns, the criminals would run wild. They would go from house-to-house raping and taking what they want. In the country, some people are 30 minutes + from the sheriff. When a carload of thugs drives down your dirt road at 3AM to check out your family…you had better not depend on the law saving you.

        Recently 3 Dutch soldiers came to America for some training. They go outside their hotel in the early AM, get into some conflict and Boom! All were shot and 1 died.

        https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/indiana-man-charged-murder-dutch-soldiers-shooting-89165952

        The shooter said…he opened fire on the soldiers because he “just spazzed.” I try and avoid being spazzed. But you can’t always avoid it…sometimes it comes looking for you.

        A few days ago, I read a gal in Silicon Valley got beheaded right on the street in daylight. Her kids were in the house. Mom goes outside and loses her head. What are you going to tell those kids??

        https://abc7news.com/san-carlos-murder-woman-beheaded-in-front-of-kids-jose-solano-landaeta-killed/12213435/

        These are not isolated incidents. America is a very violent country. You see all this smash and grab looting no one does anything about? Without guns…that would be all of America.

        When I was a kid in the 60’s, I could buy a rifle mail order at 11. Just order it mail order. Or even a pistol. Just lie that I was 21 on the mail order form. So, guns were very easy to get, much easier than now. Yet we didn’t have all these mass shootings. They started in 8.1.1966 and have skyrocketed since. We always had people killed with guns, but nothing wholesale like it can be and was started at the University of Texas massacre.

        https://www.k12academics.com/school-shootings/history-school-shootings-united-states

        What changed? The people changed.

        Yep, it can be very stressful living in America. I grew up in L.A., in the Pico / La Brea area. Always had conflicts growing up, but people didn’t shoot you, they would just jump you. Maybe growing up that way, I got used to stress and danger. Walking home from school every day was dangerous. Am I going to be jumped today? But nowadays, the stress is more of a life-or-death fear, as in…will I get shot today. It is just how things turned out in the USA.

        The politicians are talking about abolishing prisons and letting out half of the criminals. If it comes about, I guess the aftermath will make for good, clean entertainment to watch…as long as you were not living in the midst of it! But…as bad as things are…without guns…things would be much worse.

        Reply
        1. Scar monger

          Sounds like A Clockwork Orange fiction.

          I don’t think people changed in the 1960s.
          It was a hell of a lot harder to find guns on the street back then.
          There has since been in arms race between criminals and people defending themselves from crime. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and a positive feedback loop.

          The firepower and capacity of weapons has grown enormously while the costs have come down.
          People don’t think about the 2nd and 3rd order effects of so many firearms being produced. Every year more are being made and it’s not like these weapons just go bad and become useless after 10 years.

          The whole scare of letting criminals out of jail is mostly about nonviolent drug offenses. And we will go through the same thing that happened when they legalized alcohol after prohibition. Crime actually goes down when you stop equating substance use/abuse with criminality. So much crime happens around drugs because they are illegal and there’s a black market that require criminals to police themselves. Regulation of drug use and decriminalization isn’t going to lead to your paranoid apocalypse.

          Reply
          1. mealy

            There are more guns than Americans in America and some 3 percent own over half of them, even as half of America owns at least one. There is certainly room for a plausible fear of being shot in this country as it is now the #1 killer of CHILDREN, outpacing everything else. Read that again. Stolen guns used to be the go to but in the advent of ghost guns exploding in availability there’s almost no reason to pay even that much. While there’s some merit to your black market drug/crime linkage that doesn’t really negate the “impaired judgment” that certain people on hard drugs experience while armed with fully automatic untraceable weapons. Also, the OP didn’t mention decriminalization one time nor drug use generally. That’s a wandering tangent considering it also omits the realism of the epidemic of untreated mental illness in this country, or the fact that there are no effective controls on either subgroup, drug users or mentally ill, from obtaining lethal weapons without any hassles at all despite that being officially disallowed.

            So while Teoli’s guns-as-ultimate-safety fetishism is also overblown considering gun owners are more likely than non gun owners to be shot to death, there is an entirely true non-paranoid cause for alarm in this country because of the almost completely uncontrolled proliferation of firearms, mental illness, drug abuse and general disregard for “other” human life on all sides of the debate.

            It’s not fear mongering, it’s gun mongering using that very fear in a recursive cycle, for profit. It works because of that tautological adage “a good guy with a gun” stops bad bullets from injuring and killing innocent people, which is only true in the rarest of all possible outcomes. Like all propaganda, it has a ring of truth – it’s not completely unfounded in all cases. Most. For every 30 minute wait for 911 to respond in the rural country, consider the 3-5 year olds who will blow their siblings away after discovering an unsecured firearm due to zero controls on that far more likely and prevalent outcome in this country. Be sure to thank the NRA for this black and white approach to regulation which has been entirely avoidable but for their tireless insistence.

            Reply
            1. Scar Monger

              I agree with you.
              It wasn’t so much a tangent, as a response to the hyperbole of, “The politicians are talking about abolishing prisons and letting out half of the criminals.”
              It was a guess that he was talking about common prison reform ideas which would release non-violent drug offenders. So although drugs weren’t mentioned, it was an implication that shouldn’t be ignored.
              But yes I agree that we need stronger enforcement to ensure that drug offenders are the first to be blacklisted from gun purchase. And it would require closing loopholes such as gun shows.
              I also completely agree about ghost guns. I huge problem that is fundamental to the modularity of firearms.

              I am a fan of the automobile registration metaphor for how guns should be regulated. States must register all owners. You cannot even “gift” a car to your child without the state changing the registration. Each class of vehicle gets its own license type, complete with specialized training. And the VIN is stamped in multiple places because like guns, cars are modular.

              Manufacturers should be required to laser etch serial numbers on multiple components just like a VIN number on cars. Make it harder and harder for criminals.
              And we should research technology which can embed the serial numbers within the metal of all components (even the firing pin) and can be read with electron microscopes. Ghost guns will be much more difficult to make anonymously. 3D printed components will still be a problem, as will custom milled parts, but it becomes very expensive to make quality guns with reliability.

              Reply
              1. mealy

                I didn’t mean to imply what you said was ‘tangent’ because much of that I totally agree with. To be honest I was mentally replying to the OP and caught a wave off your phrase, we’re almost on the exact same page. I think regulating by serial number is a dead method. In the age of 3Dprinted firearms there’s a whole ‘nother hemisphere of consideration. The ammunition becomes the metric. Microprinting firing pins are useful in an ideal scenario but not where people are making kit guns off ebay for $300. The entire system is undermined in 5 dimensions. Technological solutions only work where that logic is respected and enforced, and in 4 ways it isn’t. After the fact sure.

                Reply
                1. Scar Monger

                  The common misconception is that a 3D printed gun are 100% 3D printed. The precision, high impact, critical components are still purchased from gun manufacturers. Otherwise you get a gun that can only fire a few times before it starts breaking.
                  By law, they could be required to number even the smallest parts. Even the gun kits on ebay, still originate from gun manufacturers.
                  It’ll take several years to go through the existing inventory but if any manufacturers, even at small volumes, won’t be allowed to operate in the US. Enforcement is key but possible.

                  Reply
                  1. mealy

                    That’s true. However they can fully-print 1-n shot fully sintered powdered metal parts now and it’s improving all the time. Personally I would not want to be pulling that trigger as I’ve seen stock metal pistols and rifles both come apart up close for various reasons, but getting a prebuilt 80% kit is altogether way too easy. There’s only 1 or 2 parts that are actually controlled, the rest you can easily get anywhere. Most of them don’t require high strength and durability is always secondary in this application to begin with. Print another. The law is Federal, the enforcement is not proactive. They’ll add years to your sentence after they catch you, but preventing you from getting them? Not happening, not well enough at all. They’re just beginning to crack down on kit manufacturers but I seriously doubt, given the war on drugs and other contraband, that this effort will do anything more efficiently than the previous ones. We really are wide open on the black market, whackamole is the model.

                    Reply
          2. Mahhn

            you don’t “think’ people changed. Yet Meth is the most popular used and prescribed drug to people and is the main problem (just like when the nazi took it). People commit acts of violence; not computers, not guns, not cars, not knives, people do. And people have changed, because their environment changed.

            Reply
            1. Iris Rand

              No, people don’t change. The motives to do violence is still the same. What has changed is the means. Drugs will bring out the violence that is already inside and many other drugs including alcohol lower inhibitions. Drugs and guns don’t put thoughts into their heads that weren’t already there.
              But just like drugs, guns are an amplifier. They give people who would do harm, the means to do so at a much larger scale. If you support banning drugs like meth, you should support banning guns too. Anything else is hypocritical based on wanting to keep the drug/gun that YOU like for yourself.

              Reply
        2. Steven L

          The question should be why US is that violent? The rest of the world has far fewer violence of this magnitude. If you think that by having more guns will solve these issues you are sadly mistaken. And for politicians abolishing prison and let out criminals, where do you get that idea? Why do you think anything will change if all you do is to lock up criminals? This has been the mantra of law and order crowd for a long while. Have it worked? Is US becoming less violent?

          Reply
      1. kingJames

        yep, the machine can turn around and swallow u up!
        A lot of anxious folks around, ready to end your life instantly with a gun, and ask questions later.

        Reply
    2. JamminJ

      Whataboutism. This is a cybercrime and cyber security site. Krebs acknowledges that the probability of being killed from online criminals is fairly low, but he does not have to change subjects to talk about health problems, or any of the other things that kill more Americans each year.

      This article does not drum up fear. It drums up awareness. Making bad decisions and mistakes online have consequences and awareness can help with that.
      If this were a medical journal discussing using sunscreen on the beach, or a blog for electricians and the dangers of higher voltages, it would be the same.

      Reply
      1. mealy

        OP : “Craigslist deaths since 2015: 17-18 per year
        You’ve got about a 2.3x higher chance of getting killed by lightning than you do doing craigslist.”

        Valid point of comparison is valid. Not whattaboutism at all in fact.

        OP didn’t say the piece was “intending to drum up fear” one iota, they said this “inspires more nutty fear in Americans” and goes on to show the ways Americans take big risks unthinkingly compared to this comparably minor one, then talks about the socialization of that rationalization and the tiny odds of it actually happening. These are all entirely valid counterpoints and I didn’t see anything untoward directed at BK. You made it up.

        Meanwhile being aware is still valid despite their counter framing of the actual odds of being physically scammed compared to those risks we all take for granted day in day out. Maybe yous is the whattaboutism in trying to shut out someone’s valid comparative points.

        Reply
        1. JamminJ

          If the OP wants to argue his point again, he can. But it’s pretty basic whataboutism.
          It doesn’t matter how few people have actually died. First off, Craiglist deaths are naturally under reported because it’s not required to make that connection public. Lightning strike deaths are a defined cause of death. Secondly, that’s only Craigslist, there are other sites. Third, death isn’t the only risk. Rapes, armed robbery, assaults, etc. are all very real threats.

          Reply
            1. Val T Booker

              Just went back and reread the comment from Les Johnson. It definitely is mostly whataboutism, but it is a valid form of argument. Youre both right.

              Whataboutism or whataboutery (as in “what about…?”) denotes in a pejorative sense a procedure in which a critical question or argument is not answered or discussed, but retorted with a critical counter-question which expresses a counter-accusation. From a logical and argumentative point of view it is considered a variant of the Tu-quoque pattern (Latin ‘you too’, term for a counter-accusation), which is a subtype of the Ad-hominem argument.[1][2][3][4]

              The communication intent here is often to distract from the content of a topic (red herring). The goal may also be to question the justification for criticism, the legitimacy, integrity, and fairness of the critic, which can take on the character of discrediting the criticism, which may or may not be justified. Common accusations include double standards, and hypocrisy.

              Whataboutism can also be used to relativize criticism of one’s own viewpoints or behaviors. (A: “Long-term unemployment often means poverty in Germany.” B: “And what about the starving in Africa and Asia?”).[5]

              Reply
              1. mealy

                “The communication intent here is often to distract from the content of a topic”

                Right, we’re talking about the relative risk of being jacked in person versus xyz other outcomes that people take for granted. That’s the topic. You’re responding to someone’s comment, or don’t you or JamminJ understand that? Really?

                Reply
                1. Val T Booker

                  No, that’s the new subject that the OP changed to. The OP comment is the distraction described in this whataboutism definition.
                  It’s a valid form of argument albeit a deceptive one. Look! It worked on you, you are totally distracted by it as if it is the topic of discussion.

                  Reply
                  1. mealy

                    There’s room for more, some of it has to be pruned, but not by you.
                    I understand that you don’t understand and respect that much.
                    When someone replies to a general forum with an idea,
                    you don’t decide that it’s off topic because you don’t get it.

                    Period.

                    Reply
                    1. Val T Booker

                      I once agreed with you, that it was at least a valid form of argument. I posted the very definition of whataboutism to show how it is very easy to understand. And now you accuse me of not understanding or respecting. Being off-topic is the very purpose of this kind of misdirection argument. Look around. I didn’t decide it, it was obvious to people. Only you seem to have the need to disagree and die on this hill.

                    2. mealy

                      “I posted the very definition of whataboutism” I understand that much, yes. Congratulations there.

                      And it 100% doesn’t apply to this. Going out of one’s way to distract from or shoot down someone else’s valid, truthful comparative risk analysis vs other everyday things in society which are much more likely to happen, (and which was not a reply to your own previous topic or trying to change your subject or distract from it, key) to frame their own argument is not whattaboutism.

                      You and JJ are wrong and other people are definitely way further off the original topic than this OP.

                  2. mealy

                    You don’t understand whattaboutism. You’re close, but you’re missing a crucial aspect. The OP’s actual intent. You are incorrectly gauging that intent as if omniscient, in replying to their comment with off-topic accusations that don’t further the original topic either. If whattaboutism is intended to “retort” with a “critical counter-accusation” then what you’re doing by your own definition appears to be whattaboutism, on the topic of OP’s comment which you replied to. If you had refuted any aspect of their valid comparisons as dishonest or proven them intending to mislead the conversation of others, that would be different. You can’t and didn’t. Their commentary is still valid and you and JamminJ are still wrong in this off-topic accusation that adds nothing. I know why he does it, there’s a record of same. You and I haven’t had an interaction until now and perhaps I’ve seen enough, thanks. Have a pleasant day but please don’t attack other people’s ideas unless you have one of your own to compare it to. So far not really here.

                    Reply
          1. JamminJ

            But even without all that, it still wouldn’t matter. Brian still doesn’t have to acknowledge the “whatabout” cases. It’ll be fine for a golf magazine to have an article about the dangers of lightning on golf courses and how to avoid danger. Anyone commenting on that golf course lightning article, saying whatabout the Sudan, would be rightly called out too.

            He’s free to make “whatabout” comments all he likes. It’s not invalid. But it’s a pretty weak argument that’s gonna get called out.

            Reply
            1. mealy

              Brian doesn’t have to let you post anymore than he lets them post, but he did.

              You don’t decide JammimposterJ, he does. There’s all you need.

              Reply
          2. JamminJ

            But even without all that, it still wouldn’t matter. Brian still doesn’t have to acknowledge the “whatabout” cases. It’ll be fine for a golf magazine to have an article about the dangers of lightning on golf courses and how to avoid danger. Anyone commenting on that golf course lightning article, saying what about the Sudan, would be rightly called out too.

            Reply
          3. JamminJ

            He’s free to make “whatabout” comments all he likes. It’s not invalid. But it’s a pretty weak argument that’s gonna get called out.

            Reply
            1. mealy

              Likewise, it’s not actually intended to distract from the topic, you replied to them.

              Nicely done proving my point.

              Reply
        2. JamminJ

          Did you just deliberately missquote me?
          Don’t put words in quotation that I’ve never said. This fake quote and your history of cyber stalking / bullying on my comments shows that you don’t care about valid points or defending the OP. You’re just harassing me.

          Reply
          1. mealy

            You said the words quoted and implied intent. You may not understand whattaboutism and you may be an impersonator of people you disagree with, but their comparative points are entirely valid to frame the actual risk of being physically scammed versus other things. You don’t actually dictate what people are allowed to talk about here, much to your chagrin I understand. If you want to reply critically to people in an obtuse hand waiving way you open yourself up to at least that much. However no one is attacking you or impersonating you. The opposite.

            Their framing is entirely valid to mention and there’s a simple verification of that:
            BK allowed it, even as he allowed you to falsely dismiss it as whattaboutism,
            which is entirely incorrect.

            Reply
            1. JamminJ

              I didn’t say all the words quoted. You can interpret all you like, but if you put words in quotation that aren’t cut/pasted directly, then you’ll get called out. You changed my words to twist the meaning. I don’t try to dictate other peoples comments. That’s what you do with your constant harassment.

              Les made a valid argument, but is open to criticism because of the blatant whataboutism. You can disagree all you like, that’s valid too. But you won’t silence or censor me from replying critically, regardless of whether you think its obtuse/wordy/arrogant/etc. You’re free to respond in kind.

              Btw, I did notice your “Explains what?” test post with my username since my browser userscript is sorting comments. But unlike you, I don’t care. Usernames here are not login identities.
              Brian Krebs allows all sorts of things on this forum. He doesn’t do much manual moderation. For instance, you can harass me and cyber stalk me with different user names. But that can also be corrected with reposts using your common name. It’s not impersonation if they are your exact words, properly attributed to you as you try to hide your harassment.

              Reply
                1. JamminJ

                  Thanks for changing your quotation. This change removed your inserted word and restored the proper context. I know your ego cannot accept that you made a mistake.

                  Reply
                  1. mealy

                    “It’s not impersonation if they are your exact words, properly attributed to you as you try to hide your harassment.”

                    Thanks for admitting that’s what you do,
                    impersonating people you disagree with
                    using their handles instead of your own
                    (or anything else) after being called out
                    several times and denied by you.
                    It was obvious anyway but still thanks.
                    Now we have that evidence in hand,
                    as you accuse other of harassment.

                    Reply
                  2. mealy

                    Talk about whattaboutism, you bombed the entire thread to try to shut someone up – and have now admitted in the open to being an imposter with people you disagree with in an effort to discredit or confuse their commentary. You’re being ridiculous but that admission will (and should) stick around I think. It’s entirely indicative of what’s actually going on here. BK is no dummy.

                    Reply
                    1. JamminJ

                      You’ve admitted to using many aliases to cyber stalk and harass me. Nobody is impersonating, but you will be outed for who you are. So you can’t hide as a coward.
                      Everyone is free to see you and count your comments. You have more than twice now.
                      Seeing your other arguments on other threads, you’re not so popular as you are pissing other people off too. Good luck.

                  3. mealy

                    Intent was implied, as I said before.
                    You aren’t a pedant in good faith.
                    The meaning is exactly the same.

                    Reply
            2. mealy

              To go one further, you don’t seem to be correcting anyone (repeatedly) talking about guns instead of the exclusive niche computer security that you personally are interested in.

              I find that interesting myself. Whattabout that?

              Reply
    3. Seltzer

      It doesn’t really matter if there are “only 17-18 deaths per year” if you are one of them. I’ll stick with EBay, thanks. Best to be a tough target and not put yourself in situations that compromise your safety. No sale is worth your life.

      Reply
  5. BobsYourUncle

    “Photocopy the license or identification paper, or use your phone to photograph it…
    Email the ID information to a friend, or to someone trusted”

    Really Brian? I don’t know about you but I am not letting anyone email or take a snap of my DL with their phone, and I am certainly not going to endorse them sending my drivers license info over the internet via email. The necessary info is name, address, DL#. That can be written down in just a few seconds.

    I am not even sure I’d want someone to snap my photo either but that seems like the least problematic as photo scanning catalogs likely already contain my likeness whether I agree or not.

    Reply
    1. mealy

      At least he didn’t specify “outdated android phone loaded with random apps” right?

      Reply
      1. BobsYourUncle

        $(‘.fn:contains(“mealy”)’).length
        14

        Do you really need to monopolize the comments?

        Reply
        1. mealy

          You just burned a comment saying nothing “bob” so what then?
          When people respond, I may choose to respond or not. Evil? Sure.
          Say something, nobody is stopping you.

          Reply
          1. BobsYourUncle

            It seems like you’re the type that always needs to have the last word, so, go have it.

            Reply
            1. Val T Booker

              I just did a simple ctrl-F and geez you’re right. mealy is bombing this site. And now he won’t shut up about how he is right and everyone else is wrong.

              Reply
    2. ted poco

      Most states sell driver license information, I would be more worried about that then a random person taking a picture of your license.

      Reply
  6. Impossibly Stupid

    Is a dedicated list for this even necessary? Given the ubiquitous monitoring that cheap technology has given us, there have to be countless areas that are under 24/7 surveillance. I mean, why wouldn’t *any* police station be useful for this purpose? Or some high-value corporate location like a bank, jewelry store, car dealership, etc.

    Also, the “never be outnumbered” advice leads to a bit of an arms race. And I would *never* accept checks or any other kind of delayed payment for an item someone is going to walk off with immediately. I’d even be a little concerned if someone had cash but was waiting to pay me until they could be sure the item fit in their vehicle.

    But I’ve generally had good luck with Internet people who show up in person. Most online scammers don’t put in that kind of effort. People who are going to be jerks to your face don’t need craigslist to act that way.

    Reply
  7. Daniel D.Teoli Jr.

    Never heard of it. Don’t know if my little hole in the wall in the Rustbelt even has safe trading areas. But I don’t do much with private sales. Part of that is because of lack of good sales advertising, another is the very reason of this article…safety. (I was going to try Facebook to sell stuff…but they banned my…twice.) I sometimes meet people at the Post Office as a safe trade area. What I like best is to just sell on eBay. I don’t like dealing with people f2f.

    I always have a gun on me…even when taking a sauna. When out and about I carry (2) Hellcat 9mm’s. I used to carry a S&W AirLite .38 snub. But Summer of Love 2020 shut down any interest I have in revolvers. With the way things are going, doing grocery shopping may be a life-or-death circumstance someday. No better time to hit you up that when your head is in the car. If things get that bad, shop in teams.

    If you live in a local that is not friendly to self-defense, has no CCW, get nitrogen powered pepper spray. It shoots in any position. Although some of you are only allowed low potency, small size pepper cans. Another good non-lethal weapon is a high-powered tactical flashlight. You should get 1000 lumens minimum. When outdoors I use a 3000-lumen light. It also acts as a bludgeon.

    I live in a Constitutional Carry state. You need no permit to carry guns. But I have a permit anyway as I routinely drive into 2 adjacent states. They recognize the permit, but they don’t recognize Constitutional Carry of my state. So, stay legal and know your laws…and your D.A.!

    Reply
    1. Nope nope nope

      Did you get stuck on gun pr0n advertisements as if that’s the topic here?

      Reply
    2. Catwhisperer

      We have a DSTS right in front of the police station, and I’m in a medium sized Front Range community in the Rocky Mountains. DSTS are common here, though that kind of crime really isn’t, but this is also a CCW/Open Carry state. Nothing we have is worth anybody dying over, but sadly, fools breed…

      Use common sense and keep your head on a swivel. Don’t go sell you BMW at night behind the bowling alley, LOL! Read “Left of Bang”, required reading material for the USMC Combat Hunter Training Program. I agree with Daniel D.Teoli Jr., above, but I also say take up a nice friendly up close and personal martial art like Krav Maga. My instructor had the best motto for the gym:
      “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six…”

      Reply
      1. Chav Manga

        So how many times was he charged with murder? Oh he didn’t actually kill anyone?
        So it’s just a slogan implying life in prison is better than being dead? Maybe…

        Reply
  8. Yanai Siegel

    My township set up an “Internet Exchange Zone” by the Town Hall, Police Department and Municipal Court about six years ago.
    “The location is well lit and a camera provides 24/7 police surveillance. In order to utilize the zone, either the buyer or the seller must be a Marlboro resident. Prior to the transaction, the resident is required to register the transaction by completing the secure ‘Internet Exchange Zone Transaction’ form found on the Township website via a link on the right side of the homepage at http://www.marlboro-nj.gov . Private exchanges of motor vehicles, weapons or items that do not fit in a 10×10 parking spot will not be permitted.”
    You may want to check your local municipal government website to see if there is a similar safe exchange zone set up near you.

    Reply
    1. Nope nope nope

      Grow a pair. Guns are for posing with on Facebook.
      If you were shooting bad guys you wouldn’t brag online.

      Reply
        1. nope nope nope

          Some do. Not all public officials are geniuses.
          But they’d at least have a _plausible_ brag…
          and relative immunity should it be uncovered.

          Reply
        2. SeymourB

          Police shoot unarmed innocent people and claim they’re bad guys all the time you mean?

          Reply
  9. Kmgx19

    I’ve used Craigslist a lot to sell stuff since it came out, but not for the last 4 years or so.

    My main problem was buyers who didn’t show up, wasting gobs of my time.

    In other words, flakes.

    After I added the following statements in all caps at the bottom of every listing for an item I was selling, I never had a problem again:

    “CASH ONLY IN PERSON. NO SCAMMERS OR FLAKES. NO SHIPPING. FLAKES, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. YOU ARRANGE A VISIT BUT DON’T SHOW UP AND DON’T TEXT, CALL OR EMAIL TO CANCEL OR RESCHEDULE, WASTING HOURS OF MY TIME.”

    It’s weird but flakes really know who they are and stay away. And, of course, scammers, know who they are.

    Since using those statements at the bottom of each of my listings, I never had a problem. Often buyers assured me they weren’t flakes. I sold some old guitars, a couch, a stove, a refrigerator and other stuff I forget. Each transaction went well and the buyers were nice.

    But that was years ago. It still couldn’t hurt, though.

    Reply
  10. Billy Farmer

    I think you left out one very important thing.
    Learn how to identify counterfeit money!
    What good is a “safe exchange location” if the money is no good?

    Reply
    1. George S.

      To avoid fake money:
      1. You take cash only
      2. The buyer and you go to your bank
      3. Already at home you filled out a deposit slip (if required by the bank) for the money, to be deposited to one of your accounts
      4. When you reach one of the cashiers you give him/her the deposit slip and your ID.
      5. Once those two pieces are checked you say to the buyer to hand the cash over to the cashier
      6. It is now upon the bank to acknowledge that the cash is not counterfeit.
      7. Now you hand over the item sold.

      Of course, you tell the buyer about the procedure before starting.

      Reply
  11. Steve S

    I”ve sold dozens of things over craigslist for the past 15 years, and bough a fair number of things as well. Never once have I had the slightest inclination of danger.

    There’s been a small minority of people who’ve had a lot of the “stranger danger”, likely from reading articles like this. One guy I talked to on the phone said he heard “chainsaws”, and hung up on me (I was trying to sell an easy chair). Another lady advised me about the great dangers of selling stuff on craigslist, like someone was going to jack me for the $60 roto-tiller I sold. One guy wanted to meet in a gas station parking lot when I bought some cat-8 network cable from him. (Yeah… the roving bands of master criminals trolling the streets that will jack you for…. 500 feet of cat-8 network cable) Uh huh.

    The vast, vast majority of people think nothing of it, because in reality there’s no real danger buying a bookcase on the internet. So yeah, I think this article is more than a little nutso.

    Craigslist is no more dangerous than how people USED to sell things, via newspaper ads. My father bough and sold a good dozen cars over the years via classified ads in the newspaper, and nobody got all paranoid over it. People paid with cash. Nobody made a big deal out of it.

    As someone else said, the ONLY issue I’ve had with craigslist is flakes. They say they’re going to show up, but don’t.

    Reply
    1. mealy

      I got taken for $20 one time out of maybe… 1000 transactions?
      Guess it depends on what you’re selling and how?

      Reply
  12. Ken

    Sold hundreds of items on CL only problems are when people show up with no CASH. One free item I gave away their dog bit me on my hand…dumb a hole. Some people show up with attitude… your item isn’t worth anything? please send them away. Krebs should be able to come up with the FAceBOok death count? My experience with offer up is horrible everything on that is sold 2 yrs ago nobody replies flacks…that one is garbage.

    Reply
  13. Ken

    Sold hundreds of items on CL only problems are when people show up with no CASH. One free item I gave away their dog bit me on my hand…dumb a hole. Some people show up with attitude… your item isn’t worth anything? please send them away. Krebs should be able to come up with the FAceBOok death count? My experience with offer up is horrible everything on that is sold 2 yrs ago nobody replies flacks…that one is garbage. Who would ever want to have video by the police? on any transaction.

    Reply
  14. KFritz

    On a mundane note, I had problems with both of the reference websites using my Ubuntu OS desktop. The map for SafeExchange doesn’t load GoogleMaps properly, and SafeTradeStation gets flagged by the Https Only extension. SafeTradeStation did come up clean @ VirusTotal.

    Reply
    1. mealy

      https-only screws up on a few sites, sometimes you have to turn it off or go without.
      Older and smaller sites more than newer.

      Reply
  15. Jon

    Paranoids! The problem isn’t buying or selling or interacting with strangers for that matter. The problem is with gun control laws and a technology (the web) and media that peddles fear and distrust amongst society.

    Reply
  16. Max Power

    Another option when selling or buying easily totable items is to meet at one’s bank branch. They usually have security and lots of cameras. If you’re buying, tell the seller that you are going to withdraw the cash from a teller after you see the item. If you are selling an automobile then you can deposit the cash right then and there or if being paid with a check then you can ask the teller to check the authenticity of the check.

    Reply

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