One person was shot and killed and three others were robbed at gunpoint while attempting to make sales through online trade sites in South Carolina’s Midlands the past two weeks.
A man was killed in northwest Columbia on October 30 after Richland County deputies said he pulled a gun on a would-be buyer during a meetup to sell items he hawked on social media. And, in Sumter, police report three incidents of people being robbed while attempting to complete in-person transactions set up through social media within the last two weeks.
Sumter Police Lt. Billy Lyons says if you are the one selling the item, you should determine where and when the transaction will occur. “Always dictate, pretty much, the location and the time,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “Don’t let the buyer dictate where to meet.”
And if you are a would-be buyer meeting a seller, make sure the sale happens in a safe place.”If they are the buyer, they should always encourage the seller to meet them at a location that’s well-lit, well-populated, somewhere that they would feel safe, where they would be in view of the public while making the exchange or the transaction,” he continued.
Some law enforcement agencies throughout South Carolina have established spaces at their headquarters for such transactions to occur. Even if a law enforcement agency does not have a designated internet transaction area, people still can meet there to complete the sale.
Lyons warned to be suspicious if the other party involved does not want to meet you at a place that you know is safe. “If the so-called buyer keeps changing — or changing the time, or, kind of giving you the run-around or give you a story as to why they can’t meet you there, that should be a red flag.”
“If it seems too good to be true and it raises that hair, makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, then it probably isn’t a good deal and they should be wary about taking part in the transaction.”
Lyons also said if someone is suspicious about a transaction made through a social media app, report it to the app or web site administrator.
All three incidents in Sumter involved someone attempting to buy video gaming equipment offered by sellers through Facebook Marketplace. No one was injured.
If you have any information about these incidents in Sumter, contact Crimestoppers at 1-888-Crime-SC.