Craigslist is a convenient way for students to sell their belongings, but sellers can never be certain they will be paid, a reality that has hit some Craigslist users at USC hard in the last few months.
Dept. of Public Safety Capt. David Carlisle said there have only been two known instances of USC students being deceived over Craigslist recently.
“You have to be really careful who you meet and where you’re going to meet them,” Carlisle said.
One student was robbed two months ago by a couple who posed as buyers on Craigslist, according to Carlisle. The student advertised his Playstation on Craigslist and agreed to meet a prospective buyer on Figueroa Street.
Upon meeting the buyer, the student was directed to a nearby restaurant’s parking lot, where a car was waiting. The man inside the car asked to see the device, and once he had possession of the device, he and his girlfriend drove away, dragging along the student who was trying to regain his property.
“It was obvious after that they had planned this to rip off the student,” Carlisle said. “Luckily the student wasn’t more seriously injured.”
Another incident occurred about two weeks ago on 28th Street when a student had advertised an electronic device on Craigslist and agreed to meet the prospective buyer out on the street, according to Carlisle.
Two suspects were waiting in a car on the street and when the student passed the device into the car, the car sped away. Again, the student was left hanging half-inside, half-outside the car while trying to recover the property.
“Both suffered some minor scrapes, cuts and bruises,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle said both incidents are being investigated by the LAPD.
Carlisle advises students to take basic precautions before meeting with potential buyers.
“If you’re going to agree to meet someone to show the property you’re going to sell … Then take a person along with you and meet in some highly public place where lots of other people are around so you’re less likely to be victimized,” Carlisle said.
Some students have also had problems with false advertisers on Craigslist.
Gaia von Meister, a junior majoring in English, said she once found a great deal on a beach cruiser on Craigslist that seemed almost too good to be true.
Von Meister said she was in contact with the seller and the two agreed to meet in Downtown. She said she had some nervous feelings about meeting the seller, so she asked her boyfriend to go with her.
“I had texted the guy an hour and a half before and we agreed that the meeting was still on,” von Meister said. “When we got there, we waited 20 minutes, I called the guy five times and he never answered.”
Von Meister said she thinks the prospective seller, might have seen her waiting outside of the apartment building accompanied by another man, not alone.
“Maybe they saw me pressing my phone and trying to call someone,” von Meister said. “If my boyfriend hadn’t have been there, I’m afraid something would have happened.”
Carlisle emphasized the importance of listening to your intuition.
“If in your gut something doesn’t seem right, stop, think a second time, and don’t do it. Quite often our intuition is correct,” Carlisle said. “It’s not worth getting hurt over a small electrical device that can be replaced, but a life or injury is not easy to deal with, so take reasonable precautions.”
Von Meister said she knew something wasn’t right from the start and should have listened to her instincts.
“It looked too good to be true,” von Meister said. “I shouldn’t have gone, but I was telling myself, ‘Why are you freaked out?’”