Clay County Crime Report
This week's crime report for Clay County Florida, provided by the Clay County Sheriff's Office. Read more

Common sense, safe trade zones make online purchases more secure

Sheriff’s Office suggests making transactions at their parking lots

By Lee Wardlaw lee@claytodayonline.com
Posted 5/18/23

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County Sheriff’s Office now offers three “safe trade zones” for anyone planning to meet a stranger to conduct an online transaction.

Buyers and sellers should …

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Common sense, safe trade zones make online purchases more secure

Sheriff’s Office suggests making transactions at their parking lots

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County Sheriff’s Office now offers three “safe trade zones” for anyone planning to meet a stranger to conduct an online transaction.

Buyers and sellers should be more wary of meeting a stranger online at an indiscriminate location, said Michael Layne, Community Affairs Lieutenant.

“I can tell you that people who choose to conduct e-commerce will meet at the Wal-Mart parking lot or somewhere at the mall to make a trade. You don’t know who you’re meeting when doing online business, and folks have a greater chance of being victimized. You don’t know who these people are or where they come from,” he said.

Safe trade zones provide a safe, well-lit area to conduct business where officers and county employees are likely to be close by.

“Most of these (locations) are well-lit areas that typically have law enforcement or county employees roaming around. This offers a place to meet where you can feel a little bit safer in a well-lit area outside the main sheriff’s office and substations,” Layne said.

Layne reiterated people need to be as safe as possible when conducting in-person transactions with someone they met online.

“I just like people to be mindful of their business online and not know who you’re dealing with. Take someone with you or go somewhere with cameras in an area that’s well-populated if you don’t go to the police station,” he said.

Layne said one reason not as many residents may not be meeting at the safe trade locations in the county is because they don’t know they exist.

“Most don’t know it, but we have three locations here in our county,” Layne said.

The three locations are at the sheriff’s office at 901 North Orange Ave. in Green Cove Springs, the agency’s substations at 3799 Irvin Court in Middleburg, and 212 Blanding Blvd. in Orange Park.

The Green Cove Springs and Orange Park police departments also have safe zones at their offices.

The program launched nationally 2015 in response to thousands of transactions that went awry initiated via Craigslist and other third-party sites, according to the SafeTrade website.

CraigslistKillings.Blogspot.com, which has a landing page on SafeTrade’s website, details 132 murders connected to third-party online transactions from 2007-2021.

Here are some additional tips provided from the sheriff’s office on how to protect yourself when meeting someone for an online transaction:

• Bring a friend or family member: Having someone with you can provide an extra layer of security and make you feel more comfortable during the transaction.

• Avoid meeting at your home or at the other person’s home: It’s always best to meet in a public place rather than at someone’s residence.

• Consider using a third-party platform: Online marketplaces like eBay, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace offer transaction protection services and can help ensure a safer exchange.

• Remember always to trust your instincts and be cautious when conducting in-person transactions.

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