ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - Two St. Louis men are in custody, charged with robbery and assault. The victims were prospective buyers on Craigslist.
Christopher Duffy and Devion Russell are both charged in connection with two Craigslist crimes. They both have 16 charges filed against them, including several counts of robbery, attempted robbery, assault and armed criminal action.
“I think people kind of think of Craigslist as a friendly environment, and it can be pretty dangerous,” explains St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce.
This past Monday, a father and son showed up at an address in North St. Louis to buy an SUV they saw on Craigslist. Little did they know the car was just bait.
Joyce says, “They were robbed at gunpoint for $2,500, and that happened on the 4600 block of Bessie.”
Two days later, court documents show another trap on nearby Elmbank Avenue. Three unsuspecting Craigslist users went to check out a car they saw online. Instead, they were met with violence.
“They were met with two men with guns, and when they tried to get away, one of the individuals was shot repeatedly,” explains Joyce.
The Circuit Attorney says police are investigating similar cases possibly involving these two suspects. More charges could be filed against Duffy and Russell in the near future.
Joyce says, “I think it’s terrible, I think it’s very scary, and I think it’s important that we get the word out to people that while Craigslist is a wonderful tool, it is something that you have to approach with some caution.”
If you’re going to use Craigslist, the Circuit Attorney recommends meeting a buyer or seller in a public place, instead of at your home or their home. Also make it clear you’re not carrying cash.
Craigslist Tips From St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce
What are the dangers of Craigslist?
Many people have heard of the Craigslist killer, but criminals across the country use Craigslist to and potential victims for scams and crimes. From armed robberies to rapes, many crimes have been carried out when an unsuspecting buyer or seller meets up with someone who has far more sinister plans. Craigslist, used by many to buy or sell items, can be a useful tool when used correctly. More than 60 million people use Craigslist each month and most are well intentioned. However, it’s important to always take safety precautions when arranging a meeting with someone you don’t know.
What can I do to protect myself?
Here are some tips for a safer Craigslist experience:
• Never agree to meet a seller or buyer at your home or their home. Always meet in a busy public place, such as the parking lot of your local police or fire station.
• Never go alone to meet a buyer or seller.
• Always let a buyer know what currency or form of payment you expect before you meet.
• Let a seller know you will not be carrying cash, but will accompany him/her to your bank for payment if a deal is reached.
• Never bring someone into your home to buy or sell an item.
• Trust your judgment. If a situation feels suspicious or uncomfortable, leave immediately.
• If you feel like you’re in danger, call 911.