In the wake of an incident in Peoria, Illinois, where a routine Facebook Marketplace meetup turned into a life-threatening situation, the need for comprehensive safety strategies during online transactions is apparent. These incidents are so commonplace that people are not even surprised to hear of them.
As technology continues to reshape our buying and selling experiences, ensuring our safety is paramount. This guide explores the recent Peoria incident as a backdrop, shedding light on five essential safety strategies to guarantee secure transactions on Facebook Marketplace.
Peoria, Illinois Incident: Your Wake-Up Call
In a press release from the Peoria Police Department, the details of the incident unfolded as a concealed carry permit holder and his friend met with individuals supposedly selling a vehicle through Facebook Marketplace. What initially appeared as a routine transaction soon escalated into an attempted robbery setup.
The seller and several people with him quickly surrounded the buyer and his friend. It was soon clear that the seller did not intend to sell a vehicle, but steal the buyer's ride. The concealed carry holder engaged in a brief shootout with one suspect, who died from his injuries. The good guy did not sustain any injuries.
The Peoria incident serves as just another reminder of the potential dangers of meeting up with people buying or selling things through online platforms like Facebook Marketplace, while emphasizing the need for users to be vigilant and proactive in ensuring their safety.
We should use this incident to underscore the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to personal safety during online transactions.
As you read the 5 points below, apply them with some common sense and discretion to your individual situation.
1. Research the Seller/Buyer's Profile: A Prerequisite for Trust
The first step in mitigating risks during Facebook Marketplace meetups is delving into the seller/buyer's profile. Vigilantly assess for red flags such as if it's a newly set up profile, contains overly generic information, or if the seller has a lack of sales history and reviews.
The recent incident emphasizes the importance of testing the seller/buyer's willingness to change meetup locations to public places, enhancing visibility and discouraging potential wrongdoers. If the person is dead set in meeting up behind a business, or on a specific street, instead of down the street in a public parking lot, consider passing on the deal.
2. Research the Location: Choose Wisely, Arrive Safely
Building on the Peoria incident, I can't overstate the significance of selecting a safe meetup location. Opt for public places that are well lit and open to the public. Arrive early to observe the surroundings, allowing you to make an informed decision about the safety of the transaction.
The concealed carry holder's ability to thwart the attempted robbery underscores the importance of being aware of your surroundings.
Law enforcement agencies recognize the inherent risk of these meetups. So many have designated a part of their parking lot as a safe location to conduct these transactions. Consider using one of these designated locations, or again, a location that is public and covered by video surveillance.
It's obvious, but worth mentioning that it's always safer and recommended that you conduct the meetup during daylight hours.
3. Research the Product: Authenticate and Verify
In the digital marketplace, authenticity is paramount. Requesting specific photos or videos of the item being sold that are not included in the listing can help verify authenticity and protect against falling victim to scams or stolen goods.
Many people use stock photos of items, or take photos from other sellers, and use them in their own ads to bait potential buyers. Think of the “proof of life” photos where someone asks for a picture of the kidnapped victim holding a newspaper with the date on it. In this same way, you could ask for a picture of the item with your user's name written on a paper, visible in the image.
Yes, someone could fake this with some basic photo editing tools, but it may weed out some bogus sellers.
It is harder to photo shop videos, so you could ask for a video with the product plugged in and operating. For example, you could say: could you take a quick video of the laptop powered up and working?
4. Preparation: Equipping Yourself for Safety
Drawing from the Peoria incident, and something that is plainly clear for anyone who seriously considers carrying a firearm for safety, is that being prepared to recognize and respond to an incident is a necessary foundation.
Consider who accompanies you to the meetup. Maybe choose a trusted friend to accompany you instead of your spouse or child and maintain a safe distance when approaching the buyer/seller. Give yourself space and time to assess the person's motivations. You may want your friend to stay with you, or position a ways away as an over watch to watch for other people entering the area, or in case things go sideways.
The incident underscores the importance of quick thinking. One thing that can help if you're buying something is to have the exact cash in a designated pocket, leaving your wallet securely locked in your vehicle. This way, you're not pulling out an enticing wallet in front of someone.
5. Alternative Payments: Diversify Your Options
Considering the how common these events are, exploring alternative payment methods such as Zelle or PayPal emerges as a strategic move.
Consider probing the seller's willingness to accept something other than cash. If the person will not accept an alternative payment, let them know that you don't carry cash with you. If everything checks out otherwise, and they simply insist on cash, propose a parking lot with a nearby ATM. Tell them you can pay them cash, but you'll check out the item and then go to the ATM and get cash if the item checks out. A reasonable person shouldn't balk on this plan.
Sellers unwilling to explore alternative payments may raise red flags, prompting users to reassess the transaction.
Conclusion: Secure Marketplace Experiences are Possible
As we navigate the digital landscape of buying and selling, the Peoria incident serves as a poignant reminder of the potential dangers lurking within seemingly routine transactions. By incorporating these five safety strategies into your Facebook Marketplace interactions, you empower yourself to enjoy the convenience of online commerce while prioritizing your safety.
Stay alert, trust your instincts, and make safety a non-negotiable aspect of every online transaction.
These principles are great, but only part of a wholistic approach to personal safety. That is why many listeners love the Concealed Carry Podcast. The podcast approaches the topic of concealed carry not just from the technical point of view, but presents the topic as a lifestyle or mindset.
The podcast dives into legal, ethical considerations associated with using a firearm for self defense. The hosts and guests discuss gear as well as how to use a firearm from the technical and tactical side of things. And what about de-escalation, treating traumatic injuries, and the use of less lethal tools? yeah that and a bunch of other things are covered too.