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In-Depth: Akron police issue warning about online marketplace buys

Two buyers are the victims of robbery attempts
Akron police issue warning about on-line marketplace buys
Posted at 9:47 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 23:29:47-05

AKRON, Ohio — Akron police and the Cleveland Better Business Bureau issued a warning about trying to find an after-Christmas deal on used merchandise using online marketplaces like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace.

Police reported two attempted robberies were generated on Dec. 27, after online sales with in-person pick-up went bad, one of the bogus deals sent a buyer to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the back.

Chris, who was too afraid to give us his last name, was one of the victims after he reported he tried to buy a used X-Box on Facebook Marketplace.

He said the two men selling merchandise attacked him at an Akron park, in broad daylight, at 1:30 p.m.

“I asked for confirmation, I asked for a live picture with the date written on a piece of paper, he sent me some convincing stuff," Chris said

“They had a bag in their hands that looked like any other exchange.”

"Then they clocked me quite a few times, they got me in the shoulder and the face, they busted my cheek open.”

“They just kept telling me to give them the money and I just threw myself back against the car.

“I could have died, I was afraid, I was scared, I was shaking. I still have anxiety attacks.”

“Akron police, I’m so thankful for them and their amazingly quick response.”

Police Capt. David Laughlin told News 5 buyers need to pick-up their online purchases from a private seller at their local police department or a public location.

Akron police were able to arrest a 15-year-old suspect in the case by using footprints in the snow at the scene.

“It can be kind of challenging, you try to differentiate who’s shoe print is who, and then you try to find some good ones," Laughlin said.

“Some people kind of get caught up in the moment, especially this time of the year when they’re trying to get something for their family that they couldn’t afford to buy new.

"Make merchandise pick-up during daytime hours, do your research on what the value of it is, go to a public place, you can usually go to your police station.”

Laughlin said a buyer in a second transaction several hours later, in the 800 block of Carroll Street went bad as well, after the sellers used a gun during the transaction. The buyer was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“As he’s driving away he heard some gunshots and one of the rounds entered his vehicle and he was struck in the back," Laughlin said.

Sue McConnell, President of the Cleveland Better Business Bureau, told News 5 consumers should ask online marketplace sellers if shipping is available and if you can pay using a credit card with fraud protection or PayPal.

“This is a risky thing, you’re buying something from a stranger, you’re meeting someone you do not know," McConnell said.

“Avoid using a wire service to make a payment when you wire money, it’s not traceable, it can’t be redeemed, you can’t get it back."

“There are hundreds of thousands and millions of transactions going on on these sites, so there is no way that the site itself is checks these offers, or the people selling these products."