DURHAM, NC - Durham Police are warning neighbors of recent crimes targeting online shoppers.
Rama Ande, of Raleigh, wanted to buy the new iPhone 8 plus at a discounted price of $450.00, but during the transaction, the seller had another idea in mind.
"He ran toward me and showed me the gun."
Ande walked right into an ambush. The robber demanded cash and Ande's old phone.
Their interaction initially started online when Ande reached out to the seller on the online marketplace, 'Letgo.'
The seller told Ande he didn't have a car so Ande would have to meet him at a random neighborhood in Durham. When he arrived, Ande got more than what he bargained for: a gun pointed toward his stomach.
"It was very surprising. I never expected that to be happening to me."
This type of crime has happened to a lot of people in Durham lately with six incidents so far this year, and in each instance, the story is very similar.
Shama Black traveled from Henderson to Durham to purchase a discounted phone. She too met up with a robber in a random neighborhood.
"He said I want everything from you. I said I have nothing. I said please I have my kids with me."
Durham Police are investigating to see if the incidents are connected.
The Durham Police Department is also in the process of creating a "meet up" spot at its headquarters where people can make safe transactions.
There are at least a dozen "meet up" locations throughout the Triangle that people can use.
Here's the list:
Durham County Sheriff's Office (schedule an appointment, 919-560-0900)
Orange County Sheriff's Office
Cumberland County Detention Center
Wake Forest Police
Raleigh Police (use the parking lot)
Hillsborough Police (use the lobby or parking lot)
Chapel Hill Police (use the lobby or parking lot)
Person County Sheriff's Office (use the parking lot)
DPD offers these safety tips:
- Meet in a public place (for example, a fast food restaurant)
- Be cautious and trust your instincts. If something does not feel right, leave.
- Meet during daylight hours
- Tell a friend or family member where you are going
- Take a friend with you, if possible
- Do not carry large amounts of cash
- Do not divulge personal information
- Be wary of last minute changes in the meeting location
Save any and all communications with the seller/buyer (text messages, emails, voicemails, etc.)
Durham police says the suspect description is vague. They are asking the public to call Crime stoppers at 919-683-1200.
There's a cash reward with any tip leading to an arrest.