A Lodi man was robbed and beaten in Oakland on Sunday afternoon, the latest victim in an ongoing vehicle sale scam on Craigslist, according to the Oakland Police Department. The name of the Lodi victim, whose wounds were not life-threatening, was not released.
Department spokeswoman Officer Holly Joshi said at least half a dozen people have been roped into this scam so far, which has turned more violent lately. The first victims were only robbed at gunpoint, Joshi said, but recent victims have been robbed and assaulted.
Police believe the same suspects are behind the recent set of robberies. They have been described as black males between 20 to 30 years old.
Craigslist scams are nothing new to Oakland — Joshi said similar sets of incidents occurred in late 2009 and earlier this year.
The recent robberies have all taken place in residential areas, and the number of suspects involved constantly changes. Joshi said the ads involved were virtually indistinguishable from other Craigslist car sale ads, except that the price of the car was usually well below market value.
None of the victims have been from Oakland, Joshi said, and most traveled a considerable distance to get to the meeting site.
Officer Leo Ramirez with the Lodi Police Department said Craigslist scams are not common in the local area, but they are reported occasionally.
Police have several recommendations to avoid getting scammed, such as making sure to meet in a commercial or heavily-traveled area.
“It’s really easy to isolate people in a residential area,” Joshi said.
It’s also best not to carry cash with you to a possible transaction meeting, and if you do find yourself in a robbery, police recommend giving up the item in question right away. People tend to get hurt when they refuse to give items up, Joshi said.
“Internet sites are a wonderful way to buy and sell things, but you always have to be cautious,” she said.
Contact reporter Fernando Gallo at firstname.lastname@example.org.