News 18 Feature: Buyer Beware

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – From electronics to employment, from a brand new ride to a brand new relationship – it seems like anything is available on the internet, but when does meeting up for that good deal become a big risk?

“I look for cars, flatscreen TVs,” said Tiauna Coney.

The list goes on.

“Trucks, motorcycles, boats,” said Ronnie Land.

And on.

“I’ve actually looked on Craigslist for my son, like school clothes,” said Angela Cain.

And on.

“Bike, iPhones,” said Joseph Arnold.

Whether it’s practical or even a little strange, it seems like just about anything is available on the internet, and more specifically – Craigslist. From buying and selling items to personal ads, the website has it all. But for one West Lafayette woman, an ad for house cleaning became a little too personal.

“He said to me that he was hoping nude or sexy cleaning would be an option.”

The woman wished to remain anonymous, but wanted to tell her story. She was texting with somebody who was interested in having her clean a three-bedroom house. She said she was caught off guard when the conversation turned sexual.

“It kind of felt like it was a form of sexual harassment online. Because even though I didn’t go there, if another woman did go there, then they could have been put in any situation that they just weren’t prepared for.”

That’s when she stopped being interested and even pulled her ad off Craigslist.

News 18’s Brittany Tyner posted a personal ad on the internet to see how easy it would be to meet up with a complete stranger. It didn’t take long to get a response. Within 45 minutes, she received her first reply with an accompanying picture. Within the next 24 hours, 36 more responses arrived.

Surprisingly, few had inappropriate content, but a few didn’t hide their intentions. Dozens of responses just asked a simple question, “Do you have a picture?” Even a month later, a few responses kept trickling in for a grand total of 89. If someone is interested in meeting up through personal ads, Lafayette Police Detective Scott Galloway said use common sense.

“For one thing, don’t put anything too personal on these personal ads. And also, if they are going to meet somebody, meet them in public, maybe meet with a couple friends or somebody that knows where you’re going, not just meet blindly at somebody’s house,” said Galloway.

However, things can turn out poorly. An officer-involved shooting last year all started over a short relationship that began through Craigslist. It ended in a murder-suicide in a quiet Lafayette neighborhood. In the last two weeks, West Lafayette police said two Purdue students were robbed by a man who posed as a woman on the online site plentyoffish.com. Back in 2009, there was shootout over tires and rims at the Subway on State Road 38.

Still, Detective Galloway said internet ads in the area are generally safe, but he warns buyers may not always be getting what they think.

“Occasionally, somebody will have something stolen and they’ll report back to us that they found their item on the internet,” said Galloway.

And when it comes to buying something practical or even a little strange, take it from people who know – don’t ignore any red flags.

“I wanted to let people know that they need to be careful,” said the woman asked to clean a house in the nude.

Prostitution and even human trafficking are two things you need to be careful of when it comes to answering ads. Detective Galloway said both are very real problems here in the Lafayette area.

News 18 reached out to Craigslist representatives, but our messages were not returned.

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