Be careful selling game consoles at meetings arranged online

Alleged robberies lead police to urge caution using internet marketplaces to meet buyers, sellers

With game consoles sold out in many retail outlets, parents are turning to online sources to buy their kids presents through private sales — and others are trying to meet the demand by offering consoles for sale.

But recent robbery investigations have got Toronto police warning that meeting to make transactions with strangers discovered through internet marketplaces is fraught with danger.

This applies to sellers who show up with consoles to sell as much as to sellers who come with money to buy the items.

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Recently police investigated two incidents on the same day and at the same place, in which would-be sellers allegedly had their gaming consoles seized.

On Nov. 16, a 26-year-old man, who had posted an online ad to sell a console, ix reported to a have arranged to meet near Glencairn subway station with another man who agreed to buy the machine. But the other man allegedly pulled out a handgun and demanded the console, before fleeing the area. Police were called at about 4 p.m.

At 8:30 p.m., police were called again to that area where a man had made a similar arrangement to meet a buyer. This time the seller was accompanied by a friend, but they were approached by two other men, who grabbed the console and fled on foot.

Police reported on Twitter they had received “numerous reports of robberies” of people selling game systems online.

Det. Sean McCutcheon said in a news release today he would like to “remind both buyers and sellers using internet marketplace platforms to exercise caution in their transactions.”


Protect yourself

McCutcheon listed four precautions to take:

  1. Limit personal information shared with strangers.
  2. Meet in a safe location like a public place with plenty of light.
  3. Try to stay within areas covered by closed-circuit TV.
  4. Have a friend go with you and let someone know where you are.

Advertising website Craigslist, which has new and old game consoles listed for $75 to $1,400 currently, also offers tips for safe transactions:

  • Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe, bank, or shopping centre.
  • Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home.
  • Be especially careful buying or selling high-value items.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going.
  • Take your cell phone along.
  • Consider having a friend accompany you.

And one more precaution: trust your instincts. Don’t pursue a deal that seems way too good to be true. If a meetings feels odd or unsafe, walk away. You are not legally obliged to complete a transaction, even if you have agreed to it online.

And it’s probably wise to avoid meeting for a transaction at Glencairn Station.

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Posted: Nov 18 2020 1:06 pm