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The dangers of selling something online: he met his 'buyer' and they stole his phone!

Posted: 6:00 AM, Jan 20, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-20 09:24:26-05
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AVONDALE, AZ — It was just before Christmas when Shawn thought he would make a little extra money selling his iPhone X.

He found a buyer named "Brianna" on the OfferUp site.

They agreed on a $465 price and Shawn would bring the phone to the buyer's Avondale address. But Shawn says when he got there, he was met in front by two young men claiming to be the buyers.

He says one of them examined the phone, then took off with it.

It's a similar story to one we told you last year. At that time, a Scottsdale woman was also selling her iPhone and met a buyer in a parking lot.

She says the buyer asked to see the phone, and then also took off with it -- and the same thing happened at the same location just hours earlier.

OfferUp touts protections like buyers and sellers providing more information to become "verified."

Shawn felt more comfortable because his buyer "Brianna" was "verified for payments" and had phone and Facebook "confirmed."

Shawn says his dashcam shows the two men in the encounter and he filed a theft report with Avondale police.

So far, nothing has happened.

We contacted OfferUp.

They would not answer questions about the incident itself or why this person was considered "verified."

They say "we are very sorry that this happened to Shawn - safety for our community is our number one priority and he did the right thing by calling 911 and making a police report. As mentioned, since this is an ongoing investigation, I don't want to make a comment that would affect it."

OfferUp also gave us the following safety tips:

What advice do you give consumers?
We introduced the Community MeetUp Spot [blog.offerup.com] program two years ago, and it has grown to nearly 2,000 locations for safe internet exchanges across the United States. Community MeetUp Spots are brightly-lit, watched by people or cameras, and many of them are at or near police stations. You can find them either in the OfferUp app or on SafeTradeSpots.com [safetradespots.com] — the only national database of internet exchange locations in the United States (there's one at the Phoenix Police Department on 620 W Washington St).

Places like coffee shops, bank lobbies, and grocery stores are great backup plans. It’s always better to meet in public than at someone’s house. It's also smart to bring a friend if you can.We are very sorry that this happened to Shawn - safety for our community is our number one priority and he did the right thing by calling 911 and making a police report. As mentioned, since this is an ongoing investigation, I don't want to make a comment that would affect it, but I do want to share some of the tips below.
What advice do you give consumers?
We introduced the Community MeetUp Spot [blog.offerup.com] program two years ago, and it has grown to nearly 2,000 locations for safe internet exchanges across the United States. Community MeetUp Spots are brightly-lit, watched by people or cameras, and many of them are at or near police stations. You can find them either in the OfferUp app or on SafeTradeSpots.com [safetradespots.com] — the only national database of internet exchange locations in the United States (there's one at the Phoenix Police Department on 620 W Washington St).

Places like coffee shops, bank lobbies, and grocery stores are great backup plans. It’s always better to meet in public than at someone’s house. It's also smart to bring a friend if you can.
In addition to investigating and addressing issues through the app, OfferUp partners closely with law enforcement. If you have encountered illegal activity or a crime, we strongly recommend contacting local authorities. The police will need relevant details from you, such as the user profile of the individual you were in contact with on OfferUp. Once you have made your report to local authorities, please encourage the investigating officer to Contact OfferUp and provide us with the following details of your case so we can work with the officer:

1. Agency case number or event ID

2. Investigative officer name

3. Investigative officer phone number or email

What does “verified” and “confirmed” mean if this can still happen?

Since most times people using OfferUp are exchanging with a stranger, OfferUp profiles started including reputation indicators [blog.offerup.com], like ratings, characteristics such as “Communicative,” and “Friendly”, average response time, and profile verification badges.

All of these aspects help people get a basic sense of the trustworthiness of someone on the app. Blank profiles don’t mean a seller can’t be trusted, but people who invest the time to complete their profiles are usually more reliable. Before messaging someone about an item, check their profile first to determine if they’re the right buyer or seller for your needs."