Too good to be true: Careful when you buy from Craigslist

MPD reached out to me this week with a story of a deal that sounds too good to be true, and a deal gone bad. And they're asking you to be more careful.

Earlier this week, there was a robbery on the 700 block of Quincy St NW that started with a Craigslist ad for an iPad 2 for only $150. Sounds great, right? They agreed to meet on Quincy Street so the buyer could pay for the iPad. Instead, this happened:

(Robbery F & V –  700 b/o Quincy Street, NW.  @ 1900 hours.

C1 and S1 communicated on Craigslist.  C1 was to purchase an IPAD from S1.  S1 called C1 to meet him in front of 720 Quincy.   S1 handed the IPAD to C1.  C1 in turn handed the money to S1.  S1 then  punched C1 in the face  and snatched the IPAD back from C1.  S1 took off running.

Lookout for – B/M 25years old,  short hair, med complexion,  orange jacket.)

Lieutenant Anthony Washington, PSA 407 manager, asked residents to be more careful and find safe places if they’re going to meet with strangers. “People need to stop meeting strangers on Craigslist offering deals that can't be refused. These types of robberies are completely preventable. The bottom line is, no one is selling an iPhone 6s or latest iPad for $150.00.”

I’ve bought and sold a lot of things on Craigslist, and it can be a wonderful resource. But you do have to be smart about it. If you’ve found found a great deal, and you don’t know the seller, MPD recommends you meet at a police station lobby. 

“A legitimate seller will come inside the station where he/she knows they are being recorded,” said Lt. Washington.

Two iPads on Craigslist... beware.

Quick example: After a five second search on Craigslist last night, I found an iPad Air 2 being offered for $125. "In a perfect condition!" the ad said. Now, I'm not saying the ad isn't legit. But the person says they bought it six months ago, and now they're selling it and it looks brand new. From the pictures on the ad, I can tell the iPad is a LTE cellular version, which is $130 add-on option all by itself, making this $629.00 brand new.

What are the chances a six-month old iPad Air 2 is going to sell for only $150? Yeah, probably not much. (I flagged the ad as a scam.)

This morning, the ad was flagged and taken down. Another quick search finds that the iPad was reposted using a different email address and different pictures but is clearly same iPad, only now this person is selling the device for $145 for “in Great condition.”

So, yeah, I’m saying these ads aren't legit.

I know this within seconds because I'm a geek and am passionate about Apple and technology, but not everyone will realize these ads are scams.

On a recent MPD listserv email from January 9th, MPD Chief Kathy Lanier agreed. The Chief sent out an email to all the MPD listservs about these types of robberies:

Recently we have seen a significant uptick in robberies where the victims were targeted after using online resale sites to try to buy or sell items.  Essentially, the suspects set up meeting locations and when you arrive a pre-staged robbery occurs. 

Over the last week, we have had numerous of these crimes occur. In several instances, the victim has arrived only to find multiple armed robbers.  Accordingly, I am asking that you consider these facts when deciding to use an online resale site.

However, if you choose to use these sites, never meet anyone in a non-public area- or an area that is not well traveled.  Always meet in a well-lit location, with lots of people, and cameras.  Additionally, it is always best to meet during daylight hours. 

A resident wrote back and suggested that buyers could perhaps meet up at/near police stations.

“That is a very good idea,” replied Lanier.