You know those marketplace apps like LetGo and OfferUp? The Erie County District Attorney's Office and Buffalo Police are warning people about robberies of those buying and selling on those sites.
Since July of last year, there have been 18 robberies of participants reported to Buffalo Police and three felony arrests of those allegedly committing the crimes. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said many of those doing the robbing set up fake accounts so they can't be backtracked.
Flynn said the thieves aren't fussy about who they rob.
"You can be a victim if you're trying to sell the stuff online. You can be a victim if you are trying to buy the stuff online. You could be the victim if you have the merchandise, whether it's a phone or a piece of clothing or whatever it may be," Flynn said. "We are seeing cases here where the alleged buyer is not an alleged buyer. The alleged buyer is a thief or an alleged thief."
Assistant DA Rachel Kranitz said the cases she has seen are people who may not have experience.
"Younger folks that I think are perhaps more trusting or don't have as much experience with these type of things," Kranitz said. "So I think one of the messages here is: If you have children that are in their teens or their 20s - one of the cases where this young man was punched in the face, unfortunately, he was younger, about 15, 16, 17 - if you have kids using and you see your kids using one of these apps, have a chat with them."
Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo agreed, people have to be careful.
"Do not do these in front of your residence on a residential street," Rinaldo said. "Do it in well-lit, public places where you are inside. You want to make it very, very difficult for somebody who may possibly be attempting to rob you, to get away with it."
Rinaldo suggested even using the parking lot of the Police Department's five district stations around the city. Also, don't give the thief any personal information of any kind.
If the deal sounds too good to be true, Rinaldo said it probably is, and drive away.