Ask the Chief

Dangers shopping on social media

All of us know about the scam phone calls, emails, and letters but many people, locals included, are being scammed when making purchases on a social media market places. It could be because we are dealing with a “real” person or someone from our community or a nearby town. It could be that we are very trusting and don’t think that people would be scamming us over the purchase of an electronic device, a pet, or a handyman job. It could be that we trust the site we are using to protect us and keep criminals from scamming people. There could be many reasons for “why” it happens but there are some things that you can do to protect yourself.
(1) If it is too good to be true it is. If the price is a “great deal” then there is a good chance that you are getting scammed. One recent local scam was when someone was selling a PS5 gaming unit for half of what they cost while being sold out in stores. People quickly sent the criminal money and never received the PS5. The same person sold several of them and made a lot of money on a “too good to be true scam”.
(2) Never pay for an item unless you are walking away with the legal paperwork you need to show ownership. Every spring campers are sold online at a great price with the added promise to deliver it directly to you. People get excited about camping so they send a deposit and never see the camper. This goes the same for vehicles. Make sure you get a signed title and make sure the person selling the vehicle is on the title and has the authority to sell the vehicle. Imagine how angry you will be when you spend money on something that was stolen or that you can not register. I tell people who are buying and selling cars to make the sale at the license center and ensure that the registration is transferred. This protects both parties.
(3) Inspect the item carefully to make sure it is real, working, and matches what you think you are buying. Jewelry, watches, and electronics are often sold with damage or missing items or are fakes.
(4) Document everything. Keep a copy of emails, photos, sale listings, and text messages in the event you have to go to court to get your money back. Another good idea is to take a photo of the seller's driver’s license and make sure the photo and name match the person you are buying the item from.
Finally, remember the saying "Buyer Beware". Don’t trust people who you don’t know. Verify everything and when in doubt, don’t do it. You work too hard for your money to simply give it to a thief and prosecuting these types of crimes is very difficult because of fake names, sale listings, and lack of evidence.
I need your help:
It is a common occurrence. A person calls me and explains that someone has threatened them by saying the cops would be called if they didn’t do this or do that. A parent tells a child to wear their seatbelt or the cops will take them away. People have turned the police into the "Boogeyman". People are using the police as a weapon against the people they don’t like or against people who they are trying to control. Don’t let this happen to you. If someone threatens to call the cops, I encourage you to call the cops yourself and talk to them about the situation. If you are a parent, don’t use the police to get your kids to behave. That is the job of being a parent, not a police officer. My job is hard enough. I don’t need you to make it harder.

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The Minneota Mascot
Address: 201 N. Jefferson
Minneota, MN 56264

Phone:(507) 872-6492