A Missouri man says he is out $5,500 after he unknowingly bought a stolen car through a Craigslist ad.
Byron Holloman, of Florissant, told KTVI News recently that he thought everything was in order the day he purchased the 2008 Chevrolet Impala. He met the female seller in the parking lot of a Ferguson grocery store. The vehicle identification number matched the the title of the car. He handed over the money and drove away.
“The very next day, I registered the car, received my plates, and thought life was good,” Holloman, a father of four, told KTVI. “Until I received the detective coming to my home retrieving the car, telling me that it was stolen.”
Holloman said he cooperated with police and told them about the Craigslist purchase.
Police took his statement and said they wanted to talk to the seller. He wasn’t able to reach her again but he did speak to the owner of the car via text message.
“I spoke with her and let her know where she could find her vehicle, and I told her who had it and what happened to me,” he said.
The woman reportedly could only tell Holloman she felt bad about what had happened to him. But that seemed to be little comfort for the scammed buyer.
“I’m out of a car. I’m out of schedules, promises I made to my children,” Holloman said. “And I’m out of a job right now, so I’m out of transportation to find another job.”
Holloman admitted to KTVI that he was desperate to get a new car and that he probably didn’t take as much time as he should have to research the transaction.
He offered some advice to other prospective Craigslist buyers.
“Take your time. Try not to even buy off Craigslist,” he said. “If you can, meet in a police station. Take someone with you. Identify the person. Ask for IDs and get as much information as you can.”
Holloman’s advice to meet in a police station is something that more and more people are starting to follow.
As stories like Holloman’s continue to make headlines, police departments in communities across the country are starting to offer “safe zones” or “safe havens,” according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.
And it seems getting ripped off isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person.
The article cites a study from Florida-based consultancy firm, AIM Group, that indicates there have been 87 killings in the United States linked to Craigslist transactions since 2007. The report showed 22 of those occurred last year and there have been six so far this year.
In response to the sometimes high-profile stories, at least 70 police departments in various states have set up safe zones.
In Coral Springs, Florida, where a Craigslist buyer was murdered last year, police say they have had no more robberies or murders related to online transactions since opening up a department parking lot as a safe transaction zone.
“Legitimate buyers and sellers will have no issue meeting you” at a police station parking lot, the department reportedly wrote on its Facebook page, according to the article.
Craigslist’s “Personal Safety” page asserts that with “billions of human interactions facilitated, the incidence of violent crime is extremely low.” But the page does suggest that users “consider making high-value exchanges” at a local police station.
Photo Credit: KTVI News