E-commerce site opens at police substation

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published February 22, 2017

 A secure e-commerce site is located near the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office’s Rochester Hills substation, on Barclay Circle, north of Auburn Road.

A secure e-commerce site is located near the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office’s Rochester Hills substation, on Barclay Circle, north of Auburn Road.

Photo by Linda Shepard

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Online exchange transactions are welcome at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office’s substation on Barclay Circle, off of Auburn Road.

The substation recently opened an e-commerce safety zone with 24-hour video surveillance. 

“People are doing this all the time,” Capt. Michael Johnson said about transactions conducted via Craigslist and other websites. “If someone is not legitimate, they will probably not (make the transaction) here,” he said.

Johnson said two well-lighted, green-striped parking spots are located near the front door of the substation, right next to the handicapped spots. A sign states that the area is an e-commerce designated zone, and it lists emergency and nonemergency police phone numbers.

“We’ve seen it in other communities, and it certainly makes a lot of sense,” Johnson said. “It is open 24 hours.”

The Sheriff’s Office warns e-commerce users to never post information that can lead back to a home address or telephone number. Before meeting with sellers, buyers should ask as many questions as possible. If sellers can’t answer questions, there is a good chance they do not actually have the product and may be setting you up, according to police officials.

Sellers should protect themselves from scams by not selling to a buyer who is not interested in seeing the product before purchasing it and who is not a local resident. Sellers should also not send money back or forward it to others until checks clear, which could take several days.

Extreme caution should be used when buying or selling expensive items. Cash should be used for buying and selling, avoiding checks, which list personal information. Fake money orders or cashier’s checks are cashed by the bank and leave the seller responsible, according to police.

Geotags — which could lead a criminal to your home — should be removed from images when posting items for sale. Police advise people to never wire funds using Western Union, which is almost always a scam.

People should not purchase items from sellers who list only an email address and no phone number: That’s a huge red flag and usually means the seller has something to hide, police said. 

People should bring their cellphone and another person to an e-commerce transaction. They should leave expensive clothing and accessories at home, and they should tell a family member or friend where they are going. 

People should show up early for a meeting and scope out the area. If someone has even the slightest concern that something seems out of place, they should trust their instincts and leave, police said. Never go to a second location with a buyer or seller.

Police say many Craigslist scams are fairly easy to spot. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“There are many horror stories related to Craigslist crimes,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a statement. “So please research the types of scams that are out there.   

“There are positive Craigslist stories out there as well, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” Bouchard said. “Trust your instincts and be wary of scammers wishing to do you harm. Use a great deal of caution when entering into these types of deals.”

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