Thieves using popular online marketplace app to lure victims

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If you’ve ever used an online marketplace to buy or sell household items, you might want to think twice before using the popular app, “Offerup.” According to police reports from all over the country, Offerup has been used by criminals to target victims and then lure them into a situation in which they are robbed of their money, their property or both.

Two teenagers in Vancouver were the latest to use the popular app to rob unsuspecting customers, according to local reports.

“SWAT officers arrested the 17-year-olds Wednesday after police linked them to three recent robberies, two of which occurred after they arranged to meet users regarding prospective online sales through the app,” Portland’s KOIN6 reported.

No one was injured in the robberies, police said, but they are making people nervous about ever using Offerup again.  The app, which allows users to browse each other’s listings, chat, and arrange in-person meetings to exchange goods, has become an easy way to buy and sell used items. But when conducting an online search of the company’s name, dozens of crimes in which the app was used as a lure pop up from locations across the country.

“Now that I know this, I don’t think I’m going to be using that app anymore,” local resident Fredrick Mudong told KOIN6, “because it’s scary — very scary.”

People in Los Angeles were warned against using Offerup after the app was used in three robberies last December. And in Florida, at least five people have been arrested on robbery charges in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, in incidents related to Offerup this year, the Palm Beach Post reported.

In September, a man used Offerup to buy a video game from a victim and ended up carjacking him at gunpoint, Palm Beach police said.

Offerup does provide safety guidance to buyers and sellers on its website, suggesting people meet at the local police station or some other “public location such as a cafe or shopping mall.”

The app also provides safety features, including one called TruYou, which lets users submit their personal identification to Offerup for verification. Authenticated users are then identified prominently on the platform.

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