Lexington police warn of robberies set up by online iPhone sale

At least two people recently have been robbed at gunpoint in Lexington when they went to meet someone purportedly trying to sell an iPhone through Craigslist, police said Monday.

Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts cited the cases in urging Lexington residents to use caution when buying or selling items online from people they don't know. She also offered tips to help people avoid such situations.

In each of the robberies, Roberts said, the victim saw a posting on Craigslist from someone claiming to have an iPhone for sale. The victim and the perpetrator arranged a time and place to meet to conduct the sale.

But In both cases the victim arrived only to be robbed a gunpoint, Roberts said. The robber fled on foot and no one was injured, police said.

Both holdups occurred in daylight at almost the same spot in the 300 block of Elm Tree Lane, Roberts said.

"We want the public to be aware of online scammers, particularly people trying to buy or sell goods on Craigslist," she said. "Unfortunately, this is the time of year when we see more and more scams, particularly when people are trying to find good deals on Christmas gifts or gifts for other holiday occasions."

Roberts said she didn't have descriptions of the robbers. She said it's unclear whether the same person committed both robberies, or whether more than one perpetrator was involved in each case.

Police offered several tips to reduce the risk of being a victim of such scams:

■ Get as much information as possible up front from the buyer or seller.

■ Deal with local people, because a local transaction gives you more control over how and when to meet the person.

■ If meeting to conclude a transaction, bring along a friend or relative, or let someone know where you're going.

■ If you're selling an item, accept only cash in payment.

■ If a big-ticket item is involved, demand to meet the buyer or seller at their bank so they can get cash there.

■ Meet only in public places with people around. Never meet at someone's home; also, avoid large open spaces, such as parks or parking lots. Never agree to meet in an area you're not familiar with.