KENT - You hear the warnings this time of year.
If you purchase or sell items on sites like OfferUp, LetGo, or Craigslist, you need to be careful about thefts and scams.
For Kent residents Hunter Bailey and Hunter Kraght, they've had a lot of time to think about what happened a few weeks ago.
“I can’t believe that guy got away,” said Kraght.
It all started on Nov. 6, when Bailey decided to put his week-old iPhone X for sale on LetGo.
He got a response from a LetGo user that went by the name of “Jordan” that he was interested in buying it. At first, Bailey had asked the potential buyer to meet at Kent train station. But he never showed up. That was the first red flag.
“He said that his sister was in the hospital for some reason and he had to go drive her. I was like ok. That’s kind of understandable,” said Bailey.
But eventually, “Jordan” contacted Bailey again asking if the phone was still for sale. According to Bailey, the buyer asked this time around, if he could come to the Federal Way Transit Center for the transaction.
“It was kind of reassuring because he says to meet at the transit center, which is right across the street from the police station,” said Bailey.
The buyer even offered to pay $800 for the phone. Bailey said he was asking for $750. But Bailey and Kraght decide to go to Federal Way to meet him at roughly 6 p.m. that night.
But the potential buyer showed up late again. Bailey and Kraght were about to leave, when “Jordan” approaches them. And they begin to talk about the phone.
“I have the phone in the box, I take it out. So he’s holding the phone checking it out while I have the box,” said Bailey.
But the buyer keeps on asking if the phone’s iCloud locked.
“We got it open. He handed the phone back, pulled up his pants and then he was like let me see it again, and the he just turns the other way and he just takes off,” said Kraght.
Initially both Bailey and Kraght are shocked that he took off. But soon after, they chase after him, they said.
“When I was about a foot away from him, he pulled out a knife and threatened to stab me if I got any closer,” said Kraght.
The buyer - now suspect - runs away, said Bailey. After they run to their car to search for him, they believe the suspect got into a car and took off.
“This is the only case where they’ve pulled a knife on me. It’s just really changed my perspective on people,” said Bailey, who said he’s sold other items before.
Police are warning that cases like this could happen more in the coming weeks as Christmas approaches.
“You need to make sure you’re really being safe. And you need to be conscious of who you’re dealing with,” said Detective Melanie Robinson of the Kent Police Department.
According to Robinson, if you buy or sell items on OfferUp, Craigslist, or LetGo, meet at a public place.
“Make it a safe place, make it a law enforcement agency. I myself use offer up and I always meet up a law enforcement agency,” she said.
Also look for clues in the buyer's profile.
“It tells you how long they’ve been on OfferUp, if it’s been a year or two years and users and buyers get ratings as well,” said Robinson
As for Bailey, he said he carries pepper spray now, while Kraght said he bought a stun gun as a result of what happened.
“I feel super paranoid that at any moment, like somebody can be like give me your phone,” said Kraght.
Another piece of advice, go with another person, they said.
“I would definitely say bring another person with you for sure. I feel like it could’ve been worse,” said Kraght.
And do your research.
“Don’t trust accounts that aren’t verified. This account wasn’t verified. He did have a profile picture, but maybe make sure he was one or two sales.”
We reached out LetGo and in a statement, spokesperson Jon Lowe said:
“Our team is working with local law enforcement to help with their investigation. We encourage users to meet in a busy, public place like a coffee shop, mall, grocery store or bank lobby. If anything raises a red flag, like someone making odd requests or refusing to meet in public, we advise users to trust their instincts, report that person to us if needed and find another buyer or seller. Our team is also available to answer questions.”
We also reached out to OfferUp and they provided this advice as well:
- Shop smart - Watch out for deals that look too good to be true. Before meeting, do your research on both the item and the seller. Use ratings and reviews to transact with people who have positive reputations.
- Keep your personal information private - Keep communication in your app or sites' messaging or chat feature to discuss the transaction.
- Meet in a sensible location - Meet in a well-lit, public location and bring, or tell a friend where you’re going. Go to SafeTradeSpots.com to find a participating police station that offers designated locations.
- Exchange money only when you have your item - Inspect your item and don’t use 3rd party digital payment services, such as money transfers, to send payment before receiving your item.
- If in danger, call 911 - Trust your instincts. If in danger, contact the police.
Federal Way Police said they continue to investigate.