May 14, 2013 3:47 pm
Updated: May 14, 2013 8:36 pm

Police urge safety on buy-and-sell websites like Kijiji

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HALIFAX – Kim Rhymes is thinking twice about using the popular buy-and-sell website Kijiji, following news that the remains of an Ontario man who went missing while trying to sell his truck online have been discovered.

“It’s pretty scary what happened there,” the Halifax woman said.

Rhymes, who has used Kijiji in the past, says that she has to think about her safety first.

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“[There are] strangers who might not be safe, who might have an interest in attacking me or trying to get something for free,” Rhymes said.

There has always been a danger of buying and selling stuff online but the dangers are in the spotlight after recent incidents. A couple weeks ago, there were two cases in Halifax where someone was bear sprayed after meeting with a potential buyer.

Halifax RCMP say that attacks when meeting to buy and sell may be rare but they do happen.

“Unfortunately there’s a certain segment of the population that wants to victimize and take advantage of people selling items,” said Cpl. Scott McRae of the Halifax RCMP.

McRae says that you should always meet in a well-lit, public place when buying or selling. He adds that you should never go alone but instead bring friends for support. He also notes that you should always trust your instinct.

Halifax Regional Police add that you should be wary of last minute changes.

“If your buyer or seller agrees to meet at a coffee shop and you’re on your way there and they call and say, let’s meet at the end of this road instead, that should be a red flag,” said Pierre Bourdages of the Halifax Regional Police.

Bourdages also advises asking for a driver’s license and jotting down the other person’s license plate during an exchange.

He notes that you should be careful when taking pictures of the items you are trying to sell.

“If you are going to take a picture in your house, it could show your kids, it could show your house. You should be cognizant of that, that once something is on the Internet, it’s always there.”

Kijiji has released the following statement about online safety: “The safety of our users is a top priority for Kijiji. We work with local and international law enforcement agencies so our users can connect in a safe online community to engage in commerce and trading locally.”

Some people Global News spoke to hadn’t thought much about safety issues.

“I guess I just have an honest trust in most people,” said Charles Brown. “I’ve gone to meet a lot of people for buying cars and vehicles. I never look at it like a huge concern.”

“I probably won’t put my phone number up now that you mention it. It’s good food for thought,” said Alex Naylor.

Though buying and selling online may be convenient and oftentimes efficient, for some people like Rhymes, it’s just not worth the risk.

“I might just contact friends and ask if they know anybody who might be interested in buying anything I’m interested in selling,” she said.

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