Online sale too good to be true? Buyer beware

Published 10:19 am Monday, April 6, 2015

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, some of the best holiday shopping deals can be found on the Internet. Even when there isn’t anything to celebrate, low prices can still be found.

However, the criminal element is finding ways to take advantage of people’s passion for low prices as they use the Internet to sell stolen items.

Authorities in Stillwater, Oklahoma are investigating one case where they believe one person sold a stolen tablet online through Craigslist.

Stillwater Police Capt. Kyle Gibbs said a red flag goes up when a buyer sees $700 technology sold for something like $50.  

Police can only speculate the item is stolen until its serial number is verified. For something small, tracking down the number can be tricky.

“They sell them cheap so that it sells fast,” Gibbs aid.

But it doesn’t mean that every cheap item on the Internet is stolen. Police use the National Crime Information Center to discover what is stolen and what isn’t.

When something is reported stolen, it goes to the NCIC computer system and index for federal, state and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies. The system is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, according to the NCIC website. The database also contains information on fugitives and missing persons.

Gibbs said the challenge is finding the original owner and the serial number. After it’s verified, police will seize the item. The original owner and the buyer both have property interest and may go before a district judge to see who gets it back, or what, if any settlement.

Gibbs said it’s more likely that items are stolen from individuals. In that case, the item almost always is returned to the owner. Incriminating evidence can also charge a person for knowingly concealing a stolen item.

 There is something all consumers can do if there is suspicion.

• Be cautious. Know who you are buying from.

• Check with police if you believe an item is stolen.

• If you have any reservations, don’t buy because you could lose the item and your money.

Sando writes for The Stillwater (OK.) News Press