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Attempted robberies, assaults prompt Surrey, B.C. police to urge caution to online buyers

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After two attempted robberies in Surrey, B.C., police are urging the public to proceed with caution when purchasing items through online marketplaces.

This month, the Mounties launched two investigations after arrangements were made online to meet and buy a PlayStation.

Both ended in assault in the Guildford neighbourhood, as the suspects attempted but failed to steal the buyer’s cash, the RCMP said in a Thursday news release.

No arrests have been made.

Read more: Vancouver police ask public to stop shopping at Downtown Eastside street market

“Often people resort to online marketplace applications to buy and sell merchandise that is difficult to locate in stores,” said the release. “Unfortunately, there are criminals who capitalize on people’s desire to get that perfect gift.”

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In 2020, Surrey RCMP investigated 15 reports of personal robberies related to online marketplace apps. Five suspects were charged in connection with the majority of the offences.

“In almost all of the robberies, the victims reported the deal seeming too good to turn down,” police said.

The Mounties are encouraging members of the public who arrange in-person purchases for online goods using social media, or other apps, to choose stalls outside their local police stations as pickup locations, or other areas with busy foot traffic during the day.

Buyers should also request the seller’s full name and cellphone number, tell a friend where and when they’re going to pick up and take extra caution when purchasing high-value items.

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