A group of three men in Stafford County, Virginia attempting to rob people responding to ads advertising a PlayStation 3 and an iPhone have authorities warning residents about the dangers of buying electronics through Craigslist.
I'd like to think that people wouldn't need a warning about buying things off of Craigslist. It's an excellent way for anonymous criminals to make sure you show up to a meeting place with cash in your pocket. It's the crime equivalent of having a pizza delivered.
That's not to say that Craigslist can't be a bastion of bargains in a bargain-less world. You just have to make sure you aren't being led into a trap.
If the seller wants you to meet them after dark behind a local church, odds are that's a trap.
This is a lesson that two different victims learned on Sunday evening in Stafford County.
According to a Stafford County Sherriff's Office spokesperson, first a man and his wife arrived in the church parking lot, expecting to purchase a PlayStation 3. Instead, they were allegedly accosted by three men. One attempted to break a bottle over the man's head. The couple fled the scene, reporting the incident to the sheriff's office.
Fifteen minutes later a man and his girlfriend arrived at the same parking lot, hoping to buy an iPhone from a Craigslist ad. Again they were confronted by three men, one of which punched the man in the face.
The assailants from the second attack matched the description of those in the first. Not only had these men set up an ambush through Craigslist, they scheduled multiple ambushes in the same night.
There are ways to make Craigslist work for you. Meeting your seller in a public area with plenty of foot traffic is one of them. Don't let the lure of the deal make you do something stupid and dangerous. It's only stuff. They'll make more.
Va. police warn about 'Craigslist' robbers [The Washington Post]