Police urge online users to be careful about meeting strangers for purchases

Crime & Safety

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – If you go to popular online buying and selling sites, you’ll find hundreds of pictures for items. You may make a little money by selling something or get yourself a good deal by buying an item.

But after the online transaction, the actual buying or selling is an area law enforcement is reminding you to be careful when meeting a stranger.

Savannah Police sent out a tweet Monday to remind people of safety tips and confirm it’s because of an incident over the weekend.

“I can’t divulge too much information because it is an active investigation and we’re following up on some leads right now,” said Sgt. Ryan Bevil from the Savannah Police Department Robbery Unit.

Bevil says they just want people to be safe, and says it starts with the meeting.

“First off is going to be the time of day,” said Bevil. “Try to meet people during daylight hours.”

Bevil says always make that meeting point a public place.

Chatham County Police Captain Dan Flood even suggests you make it a police precinct.

“Then, the second step is don’t ever go to any of these locations by yourself if you can help it,” Flood said. “Try to take somebody with you and never go to a secluded location.”

Flood also suggests taking your cell phone with you to any meeting especially if you end up going along.

“If you can, do the transaction while you have somebody on the line with you,” said Flood. “That’s a good safety precaution as well.”

Flood also says always tell a friend or relative where you are going and once at the meeting place it’s a good idea to text them the license plate of the person you have just met.

“You just want to be careful and you don’t want to be complacent,” said Sgt. Bevil.

Both law enforcement agencies say look for red flags like unrealistic deals. “If someone is going to sell you a brand new cell phone for $200, there’s probably something going on where you may not want to go through with that meeting,” said Bevil.

Captain Flood also has advice for buyers. “Only take the amount of money that you’re going to use to buy the item,” said Flood. “Leave your wallet and other stuff back where you came from or in your car.”

They say most online deals go just fine but be aware they can go wrong if you’re not careful.

“We want to put in the forefront of people’s minds when they’re doing these online transactions especially going into October, November, December just to be a little bit more caution when dealing with people online,” said Sgt. Bevil.

Advice from Savannah Police:

1) Meet in a well lit, busy area that has camera coverage

2) Take someone with you if possible

3) Tell somewhere where you are going, who you are meeting and a vehicle description

4) Avoid meeting late at night when there won’t be people around

5) Look for red flags. If something doesn’t seem right, cancel or leave

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