Increase in personal robberies linked to online marketplaces in-person exchanges


The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Robbery Unit is seeing a significant increase in personal electronic robberies stemming from online marketplace transactions, like Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji, with in-person exchanges.  

While this time of year typically sees an increase in personal robberies, our Robbery Unit has seen approximately 30% more peer-to-peer robberies since October, including cellphone robberies.

When setting up in-person exchanges, do not put your safety at risk by organizing the exchange at your home. Instead, consider using one of the OPS’ Safe Trade Exchange Zones or, at a minimum, go to a well-lit, video-surveilled, public place with a friend.

“We launched our Safe Trade locations at three police stations back in October to promote safer online marketplace exchanges,” says Detective Wellman from the Robbery Unit. “We remind the public to use these spaces and put their personal safety at the forefront when completing online transactions exchanges.”

When conducting business on an online marketplace, consider these safety tips:

  • Consult the profile of the buyer/seller to see if they have an established profile. Use caution when dealing with newly created accounts.
  • Check the buyer/seller’s reviews or ratings to see if there are red flags.
  • If the price of the item seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t proceed with the sale.
  • Meet during daylight hours if you’re planning to meet in person. Any last-minute changes to the location should also be considered a red flag. We recommend you walk away from the exchange rather than go to a second location.
  • Avoid vacant parking lots or properties when you meet with the other party.

Please note that Safe Trade Zones are not monitored 24/7. Persons using the premises for Project Safe Trade are advised that the Ottawa Police Service does not assume any responsibility for any transactions or mediate the use of its premises for this purpose.

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