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How to avoid becoming a Facebook Marketplace victim, following recent robberies

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Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 20:09:02-04

Police arrested a 16-year-old accused of luring and robbing at least a dozen potential buyers through Facebook Marketplace and, in one incident, shooting someone.

On Monday, police set up a sting operation to buy from the teen and arrest him. In the process, they found a gun he threw while trying to run away.

So when perusing bargains on Facebook Marketplace or any other online platform that demands in-person exchanges, police have offered up Cincinnati Police Department parking lots -- fully lit and equipped with cameras.

But there are other things people can do to stay safe.

Jim Lentz, owner of Premier Shooting and Training Center, said whether you arrive to the meeting with a weapon or not, you should be fully prepared before meeting with a stranger.

"One hundred percent public space, places where there are cameras, to take a buddy with you if you can, right, so the buddy system always works well," said Lentz. "I always like to get prior information up front. What is the person's name, who am I meeting. If they're reticent to give you their name or address or where they are, that should be telling you something's not right."

Instructors at Lentz's training center teach situational awareness and self defense. Lentz said it's important to trust your gut.

"Most importantly, for us it's understanding when it's time to fight, right, so for example if someone says, 'You're coming with me,' or they try to take you to a second location, that's when you want to fight. And then your main objective is to cause an injury to that human being. Injuries is what stops altercations," he said.

If you find yourself face to face with a gun, however, Lentz said to just give in and give them what they want.

Buyers and sellers online should also consider using virtual payments like PayPal, Apple Pay or Venmo. Check the rating of the person you plan to meet first and consider getting a receipt.