Police are warning the public about a rise in robberies related to online marketplace apps.
The Surrey RCMP says that in 2020, they’ve received 13 reports of app-related robberies to date, compared to the five reported in 2019.
“Online apps enable criminals to arrange face-to-face meetings with their victims,” reads a statement from the Surrey RCMP. “They lure their victims, who they know will be in possession of cash or high valued items, under the guise of completing a transaction.”
Police add that the products for sale will often be listed at a significantly lower price than their actual value as a way of enticing buyers.
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Many of the cases reported to police include the victims of the robberies being “threatened” and “assaulted,” despite the meetups taking place in public areas.
“We recognize that online marketplaces offer buyers and sellers convenience and affordable deals, but it’s important to keep in mind you’re dealing with a stranger on the other end,” says Sergeant Ryan Forbes of the Surrey RCMP Robbery Unit.
Anyone who plans on using marketplace apps is advised to meet at a public place during the day with high foot traffic. Police also recommend that the user gathers as much information as possible, such as the other contact’s full name and cell phone number.
Deals or transactions should never take place in a secluded area or a person’s home, and users should be especially careful when selling high-value items.