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Police in ND: Avoid a Ripoff When Trading Items in Person

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021   

WEST FARGO, N.D. - West Fargo is the latest North Dakota city to offer "safe" trading spaces for online transactions. While not all communities around the state have the option, authorities say key safety tips still apply.

According to local police, the designated "Safe Spot Swaps" are meant to give people who buy or sell items on sites such as Craigslist or Facebook an extra layer of protection against fraud or robbery.

West Fargo Community Engagement Officer Rhonda Jorgensen said that as the community grows, along with more people turning to online marketplaces and ads, the hope is that they'll avoid risk.

"It gives you that safe spot that you should be comfortable going to," she said, "versus just meeting in a random parking lot somewhere."

One safe zone is at the Police Department, the other at the West Fargo Fire Department's south station. The cities of Fargo and Grand Forks have taken similar steps in recent years.

If your community doesn't have one of these sites, officials have said you should look for similar places to meet when you're selling or picking up an item - an area that has security cameras and is crowded and well lit.

Authorities also recommended bringing a friend or family member along as another safety precaution. Jorgensen said the trading zones also can be used in child-custody cases.

"On occasion, we do get requests to stand by for child-custody exchanges," she said, "and with these 'Safe Spot Swaps,' it really is neutral ground."

For adults doing this type of exchange, she said, the other parent still has to be there to ensure the child isn't left alone. The designated sites are under video surveillance, but are not monitored around the clock.


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