It's more popular than ever to sell used items through sites like Craigslist and Letgo. If you're not careful, you could end up in harm's way.
Last month, 33-year-old April Vancleave was killed in Arlington while trying to sell items to raise Christmas money. Also, 42-year-old Martha Teran was murdered in Dallas after trying to sell her cellphone.
These transactions can leave even the most cautious people at risk.
Princesse Elessa used the Letgo app to sell her laptop. When it was time to meet her buyer, she was worried about her safety. She soon found out she should have been worried about her money, too.
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She didn't want to put herself in harm’s way, so she called up a friend to help her make a deal.
“It's Christmas and I needed the money,” Elessa said.
She was hoping to sell her Macbook Pro for $900, so she set up an account with Letgo, an app that lets you buy and sell items in the U.S.
A few days later, she heard from a man named Chase.
“I was just like, okay; [he] seemed like a pretty decent person,” she explained.
They exchanged messages about the laptop and decided to meet up to make the transaction. Chase wanted to meet at his home.
“And I was like, ummmm, not really comfortable,” Elessa said.
They agreed to meet outside her leasing office.
“It was winter, seven o'clock, dark as heck.”
It wasn't the ideal setup, but Elessa was ready to make the sale happen.
“I was in the passenger seat, my friend was in the driver's seat.”
As for the buyer, she said he seemed a bit nervous.
“Because when he was trying to give us the cash and he would kind of just tilt a little bit. So, I'm thinking he's just trying to protect himself or he thought maybe my friend and I were trying to scam him.”
Her friend took the cash, counted it and handed over the Macbook.
“When I got the money, I wanted to deposit it right away,” she said.
Elessa deposited the cash in an ATM and it spit right out.
“I was like, 'that's awkward.' And so I decided to the local Kroger store. I get to Kroger and the lady looked at it and was like, 'um, that's all bad cash.'"
The cash was all fake.
“I texted the person from the number and was like you just stole my laptop. He said "I don't give a [expletive],'” said Elessa.
That text pushed her over the edge. She turned in the money to Addison police, who said "our investigators filed subpoenas to gain account access with Letgo…as the case is still open we cannot comment further on the status."
In a statement, a Letgo spokesperson told NBC 5 Responds, "we had not received previous complaints about the user you mentioned. We immediately blocked that user's phone when you reached out to us. Issues like this are quite rare. The vast majority of Letgo's users are trustworthy, but we, of course, still urge users to always exercise good judgment and take proper precautions, as they should any time they buy or sell online."
She's glad she wasn't hurt, but hasn't forgiven herself for letting this happen.
“Because my friend and I felt something was off. We just should have stuck with our instinct,” she said.
If you use online sites to buy or sell items, remember these tips:
- To keep yourself safe - try making the transaction at your local police station.
- Make sure your buyer pays you in cash. Never accept checks or another form of payment that can be easily manipulated.
- Make sure that cash is real. Bring a counterfeit pen with you. They cost about $10.
It could save you a lot of trouble in the long run.