When Online Ads Go Wrong: How to Protect Yourself

Why are people still posting their used goods for sale online? In a world where serial killers can target massage therapists on Craigslist, shouldn’t we use these news items as cautionary tales against meeting strangers with our valuables in tow? It baffles our defense attorneys. A gunman reportedly robbed a father and his children of their Sony Playstation after they listed the game system for sale on KSL.com. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the unidentified assailant arranged to meet the family in a parking lot on West Temple Street to exchange cash for the Playstation when he pulled a gun and demanded the portable system. He took off down the street, and fortunately, no shots were fired.

Safety Checklist for Online Transactions

Arranging a sale online using a public forum is no different from an anonymous posting in a paper circular or newspaper. Anyone can read it and anyone may reply. Establishing some safety protocols for arranging meetings to exchange funds and the goods for sales can protect your family and lead quicker turnaround time.

  • Phone Conversation First – exchange numbers and talk to the prospective buyer. This action at least helps confirm gender and gives a ballpark estimate on age. The last thing you want is to show up for a sale expecting a 25-year-old college student only to discover a 67-year-old man with very different intentions.
  • Using Electronic Funds Transfer – cash might be simpler, but there’s no protection if the deal goes sour. Ask to use a digital method of funds exchange like PayPal. This strategy let’s you know the money is real, and the buyer is serious about the transaction.
  • Public Places Always – a parking lot isn’t a public place. Arrange meetings in places where people gather – restaurants, retail locations. Never meet someone in their home, without someone you trust with you, or at night.

Trust Your Instincts During Sales Process

The human body has a myriad of warning systems in place to inform the conscious mind when something about a situation just isn’t right. The nerves you’re feeling might not be normal anxiety at meeting a stranger, but a tip-off that something is seriously wrong. If you have any doubts about the intentions of a buyer, leave immediately. Cancel the deal. Walk away. Better to leave with your life and find another buyer to complete the transaction.

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to make rash decisions that have far-reaching implications. If you find yourself, or someone in your family, charged with a criminal offense, you need experience trial lawyers working on your behalf. Contact our law offices today to discuss what happened, and discover how we can assist you in clearing your good name. This is an important battle. Don’t go into it without help.   

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