Have you ever been interested in an item you wanted to buy or sell on Craigslist or a Facebook for Sale site? You offer the item for sale or contact another person to buy the item. Two people that are strangers, potentially hiding behind a mask known as a profile, meet to make the transaction. These transactions have been relatively safe, but the potential danger is always there.
Most recently, we learned about the horrific murder of 20 year-old Danny Diaz-Delgado, from Trenton, New Jersey who went to meet a stranger in hopes of purchasing a PS 4 video gaming system. Danny found the offer on an online ad posted on the Facebook for Sale site.
Danny agreed to meet the seller in the East Ward section of Trenton. Sadly, Danny never returned home that night; his body was recovered the next day. He was discovered deceased near a creek in Hamilton Township. He had been tied up with duct tape and electrical cord and shot multiple times. The police identified the suspect as 29-year-old Rufus Thompson, also of Trenton, who posted the ad for the PS4.
During my Internet Safety – Cyberbullying Student Assemblies and Parent Workshops, I discuss these dangers. There are so many strangers hiding behind an online mask looking for victims to take advantage of or harm. Often kids and adults let their guard down because they think they are getting a great deal. Over the past few years, there have been several incidents where kids and young adults have traveled to trade sneakers or buy items seen online. When they arrived, they were robbed at gunpoint.
Safe Exchange Zones
Many Police Departments across the country have incorporated a “Safe Exchange Zone” in the vicinity of Police Precincts in an effort to reduce crimes that originate from online and social media ads. In Staten Island, the front of any of the four Police Precincts could provide a safe location to conduct an online transaction. If the seller and buyer are reliable and trustworthy, neither should have an issue with meeting in front of a Staten Island Police Precinct.
If you are considering buying or selling an item online and intend on meeting with the seller or purchaser, please consider these tips to maintain your safety:
- Never meet a stranger alone. Take someone with you as a witness to the transaction.
- Make the transaction in a public place, such as a Police Precinct.
- Set up the transaction exchange during day light hours.
- Always let someone else know where and who you are meeting.
- Never let anyone come to your home and never go to their home.
- If possible, make the payments through the online methods offered,
like PayPal etc.
- Kids, never contact or agree to meet someone in person that you only met online. Make sure you tell your parents.
- Parents, please discuss this with your kids and make sure they understand that they need to tell you if someone contacts them.
Stay Safe. Don’t be a victim!
By Michael Reilly, Staten Island Community Education Council President and current candidate for South Shore State Assembly.