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Safe Exchange Place

Internet services such as Craigslist are an increasingly quick and convenient way to buy and sell items. However, we often hear stories of people who have been victimized after setting up a sale through the website. The item being sold could be fake or broken, the cash being used could be counterfeit, or the check written could be bogus. There have been real estate scams offering fictional rentals, foreign scams offering more than your selling price, fake job scams, and fake ticket scams. Assaults, robberies, and murders have also occurred during these transactions.

The Westfield Police Department urges its residents to be cautious when buying and selling on Craigslist or similar sites. Trust your instincts and always meet in a public place. Since 2015, the Westfield Police Department has offered a “Safe Place” at the Public Safety building, located at 17535 Dartown Rd, for transactions. While our lobby is currently closed, our front foyer is open to the public 24/7 or you can arrange to meet in our front parking lot.

If you do become a victim of a crime, report it to the police immediately via 911 or dispatch at 317-773-1300. Also, report all suspected fraudulent ads on whichever online platform you are using. You can also report scams to the FBI at www.ic3.gov.

With this in mind, the Westfield Police Department would like to offer the following safety tips and reminders to help avoid scams and protect yourself when using online platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, etc.

  • Always deal locally with the person so you can meet them in person.
    • Many scams begin with a “seller,” “landlord,” or “employer” who is based out of state or out of the country and is unable to deal with you directly. • Never rent housing without seeing it first; never purchase expensive items sight-unseen.
  • Never submit to a credit check or background check for a job or house listed on Craigslist until you have met the interviewer or landlord in person. • Avoid jobs that ask you to send them money. This is always a scam.
  • Never give out your financial information (PayPal, bank account, etc.) or social security number.
  • Never wire funds via Western Union, Money Gram or any other wire service.
  • Know that fake cashier’s checks and money orders are common. Banks will cash them and then hold you responsible for the money.
  • Never accept one that is for more money and then give back “change”! This is a common scam!
  • Craigslist does not provide “buyer protection” or “seller certification.”
    • Only a scammer will “guarantee” your transaction.
  • Be especially careful when buying/selling high-value items.
  • Do your research!
    • Know about the item or vehicle you’re buying, how to tell if it is fake, or if it’s priced correctly.
    • Check whether the pictures included are downloaded from the Internet. Copy the link to the image and search it in Google Images.
    • Make sure the landlord really owns the house. If it’s an apartment or condo, you can call the related association or property management company. If it’s a home, you can search property records for the area.
  • If you are buying tickets, know what your ticket should look like. Ask for proof of purchase.
    • If you’re buying tickets through the mail, don’t pay the entire amount up front. Offer to pay half up front, half when received. Put everything in writing, including the seller’s information. Ask that the tickets are sent with a tracking number.
  • Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services. Many scammers will use a spoof email that mimics a legitimate site and escrow account but is really fake.
    • If you are buying a high-priced item where an escrow service is suggested, pick it yourself. Never allow the seller to pick and never do business with a company you’ve never heard of.
  • Be certain you are on the authentic site or app. For example, spoof sites have been created that look exactly like Craigslist but are only designed to take your money. The official website is http://www.craigslist.org/; anything other than that is not real.
  • Insist on a public meeting place, like a restaurant or the Public Safety Building.
  • Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home. If you must meet at your residence, do not let them inside and do not be alone to meet them – invite a friend, relative, or neighbor over to assist.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going to meet someone you contacted through Craigslist and take someone with you – Never meet them alone!
  • Take your cellphone along with you.

Here are some additional resources regarding scams:







Contact Us

Joel Rush
Joel D. Rush,
Chief of Police
  • Phone: (317) 804-3200
  • Fax: (317) 804-3210
  • Staff Directory
  • Office Hours:
    7:30am-4:00pm, Mon-Fri
    Last Wednesday of every month, opens at 9 AM

    Dispatch (317) 773-1300

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