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  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 28, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Online Classifieds, ,   

    40 Marketplace scam victims show up to woman’s home 

    (Stock Photo)

    By Greg Collier

    If you saw an and for a used washer and dryer for sale on Facebook Marketplace for $250, you probably wouldn’t give it any other thought. After all, it’s only $250, what scam could the seller possibly try to pull for that amount of money. You’d be partially right, as the scam didn’t take $250 from victims. It only took $125 from victims, and there we’re a lot of victims. A quick estate believes the scammers made at least $5000. And one victim didn’t lose any money but has lost the peace and quiet of her home.

    In the Atlanta area, the aforementioned washer and dryer was listed for sale for $250 on Marketplace. As you may have guessed, there wasn’t any washer or dryer for sale. It was a scam listing designed to get deposits out of victims. The scammers asked for a deposit of half the price before allowing the appliances to be picked up.

    While the article doesn’t state it, the scammers were more than likely collecting payment on personal payment apps like Venmo or Cash App.

    When the scammers would give their victims an address where they can pick the items up, they gave them a random address in Atlanta. This address belonged to a woman who had no idea scammers were using it until people started showing up to her home looking for a washer and dryer. This has been going on for weeks, with at least 40 victims showing up to her home looking to pick up a washer and dryer. She’s even had the listing removed from Facebook, but the scammers keep putting up new ones. She’s posted a sign in her front yard warning victims there in no washer/dryer, and they’ve been scammed.

    Thankfully, there have been no incidents at the woman’s home. In the past, we have seen some incidents where the scam victim refuses to believe they’ve been scammed, and have become belligerent with the homeowner.

    It doesn’t matter what item is for sale online, there can be a scam attached to it. In this instance, the victims paid a deposit before seeing the product in person. We can almost guarantee the scammers had some kind of story as to why they couldn’t deliver the item.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 23, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Online Classifieds, ,   

    How to stay safe when using online classifieds 

    By Greg Collier

    It’s been a long time when we discussed safety procedures when using online classifieds like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and even Geebo.com. This subject really hasn’t garnered any headlines in a while, but that doesn’t mean everything is safe now. Like regular people, the media can and often does focus their attention on many things. The media probably lost their attention when it comes to classifieds safety during the pandemic, as it was suggested that everyone maintained social distancing.

    Recently, a news story broke that reminded us to remind our readers about using these platforms safely. A man was shot in Jacksonville, Florida, after going to meet someone he was going to sell an iPad through Marketplace. The victim met the assailant in a gas station parking lot during the daytime. When the victim met with the buyer, the buyer tried to grab the iPad and flee with it. The victim was able to grasp the buyer, a struggle ensued, and the victim was shot.

    The victim followed the unwritten rules of meeting someone through Marketplace. He met them in a well-traveled area during daylight hours. Unfortunately, those rules don’t apply anymore, and haven’t for a while. As buyers and sellers started using these rules, the criminals adapted and became more brazen in their attempted schemes. Tragically, this has resulted in robberies, shootings, and murders.

    For years, we’ve subscribed to the notion that online classified transactions should be done at a local police department. While it’s not 100% effective, proposing to meet at a police department will go a long way in deterring countless scammers and thieves. Many police departments even have a designated area for such exchanges.

    And while we don’t often pat ourselves on the back, Geebo.com goes the extra mile of reviewing our ads to minimize the possibility of scams and other crimes. Also, each one of our ads provides a link to SafeTrade Stations, which provides a list of accommodating police departments. Geebo.com was created with the safety of our users in mind.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Online Classifieds, ,   

    Online sellers have to deal with this phone scam, again. 

    Online sellers have to deal with this phone scam, again.

    By Greg Collier

    Scams that involve online selling are a top priority for us, since Geebo.com is an online marketplace. Previously, we’ve taken the role of an anti-Craigslist, since we actually take steps to try to protect our userbase. One of those steps is educating our users in the ways scammers might try to take advantage of them. One of those scams has resurfaced in multiple news outlets lately, so we thought it’s a good time to remind our readers of this scam.

    If you’re not familiar with Google Voice, it’s a service provided free from Google that allows you to have a secondary phone number. For example, you can use Google Voice to have separate business and personal numbers while still only using one phone. Users are only allowed one Google Voice number per hone number. This prevents bad actors from having multiple phone numbers they can operate from. However, this does not stop them from trying, and the bad actors like to target online sellers in this scam.

    The scam starts when someone tries to sell an item online, regardless of the platform. While talking or texting with the seller, the buyer will claim that they need to verify that the seller isn’t a scammer themselves. The buyer will then claim that they’re sending a seller an authorization code to verify the seller’s integrity. The buyer will then ask the seller to repeat the code back to them.

    What’s actually happening is the buyer is setting up a Google Voice number under the seller’s phone number. The authorization code is sent by Google to make sure that a bad actor isn’t trying to use someone else’s number to sign up for Google Voice. If the seller gives out that authorization code, the scammer can hijack that Google Voice number and use it in additional scams. That way, if law enforcement attempts to trace the Google Voice number used in a scam, it will trace back to the seller.

    Thankfully, there is a surefire way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of this scam, and that’s to sign up for your own Google Voice number. While we are in no way trying to promote Google Voice, signing up for a Google Voice number can prevent you from having a Google Voice number signed up under your phone number without your permission. If someone has already signed up for a Google Voice number that’s linked to your phone number, you can follow the instructions from Google on how to reclaim it.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Online Classifieds, , , ,   

    Venmo scam targets online sellers 

    Venmo scam targets online sellers

    By Greg Collier

    When selling your items online, both sellers and buyers often have to deal with scammers. No matter what platform you use, whether it’s Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or Craigslist, the potential for being scammed is high. However, as a quick aside, Geebo.com takes steps than most platforms to try to minimize our users from being scammed. But back to the matter at hand, many of these scams revolve around the payment of whatever item is being sold. In the early days of online marketplaces, the phony check scam was the main scam that separated victims from their money. While that scam is still prevalent, digital payment scams have become the preferred tool of choice for scammers. Since the payments are made instantly, the scammers don’t have to wait as long for the payment and can disappear even quicker.

    A number of residents in the Boston area, have come forward to the local news media claiming that they’ve been scammed through the Venmo payment app. One online seller states she was selling a mirror online for $30. The supposed buyer sent her a Venmo payment for $900. According to the seller, the Venmo website said she could just send the money back to the buyer, so that’s what the seller did. A few days later, her Venmo account was suspended, emptied of the money that was in there, and Venmo was asking for additional funds to cover the $900 return.

    Scammers will often open Venmo accounts using stolen identities and credit card information. By the time the credit card company or bank catches on, the scammer has already made several Venmo transactions that will come back as fraudulent. Since Venmo can’t get the money back from the scammers, they’ll often try to reclaim the money from the scammer’s victim.

    If you’re selling something online, and the buyer sends you more than the asking amount, that’s a huge red flag that they might be trying to scam you. If you receive a Venmo payment more than what you’re asking, do not just send it back. Even if it’s a legitimate mistake on the part of the buyer, ask them to reverse the payment instead.

    Please keep in mind that Venmo was mainly designed to be used between friends and family. If you’re selling online, consider using another form of payment, such as cash or PayPal, even though those can come with scams of their own.

  • Geebo 11:03 am on February 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Online Classifieds,   

    Geebo introduces new feature to better protect consumers 

    Geebo introduces new feature to better protect consumers

    Since the beginning, Geebo has always had user safety in mind. Not just personal safety but financial and emotional safety as well. Many of the safety choices made by Geebo have gone against what many would consider industry standards. However, we’ve always stood by those choices and have challenged other online marketplaces to do the same. For example, other classifieds sites rely on users to flag potentially fraudulent ads. This has led to abuses of the flagging system on other sites. Instead, Geebo employs a trained staff to moderate each ad for potentially fraudulent or illegal activity and the innovation doesn’t stop there.

    In 2010, Geebo took a stand against sites like Craigslist and Backpage by engaging in an anti-human trafficking campaign designed to bring awareness to the plight of victims trafficked through Geebo’s competitors. In that same year, Geebo closed its personal ads section due to the amount of trafficking that took place in the personals section of other sites. Even though there were no reported incidents about Geebo’s personals Geebo felt the removal of the section was necessary to further ensure user safety.

    In 2011, Geebo CEO Greg Collier wrote an open letter to other online classifieds asking them to take user safety more seriously by implementing such measures as moderating ads and removing adult-oriented ads. Many of those challenges were largely unheeded by other classifieds sites until media and government pressure forced them to remove their adult sections and their other ads are still largely unmoderated.

    In January 2013, Geebo made the decision to stop accepting ads for pets. In a company blog post, CEO Greg Collier noted puppy mills that sell abused or sick animals commonly use online classifieds.

    In May 2015, Geebo partnered with the AIM Group’s SafeTrade Station initiative in order to provide a list of safe trading spots at police stations across the country. Each Geebo ad contains a link to the SafeTrade Stations website so users can find a safe location to make their transactions.

    In 2016, in response to the Orlando nightclub shooting and other mass shootings, Geebo stopped accepting ads for firearms even though no firearms-related crimes were ever linked to Geebo.

    That brings us to Geebo’s latest innovation for user safety. Since late 2018, Geebo staff have been monitoring the responses to ads made through the Geebo platform. By doing this we can determine if the responses are coming from overseas which largely indicates that the ad’s respondent is more than likely a scammer. It also allows us to detect potential fraud from inside the country since our staff is trained in the detection of the most commonly used scams. We believe this proactive stance against scammers will go a long way in protecting the safety of our customers. While other sites and apps in our industry may see this as going above and beyond the call of duty we believe it’s the most logical and needed step in consumer protection.

  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Online Classifieds   

    Is there a new site trying to usurp Backpage’s trafficking throne? 

    Is there a new site trying to usurp Backpage's trafficking throne?

    Recently, one of New York’s less than trustworthy and more opinionated newspapers ran an article claiming online sex trafficking hasn’t changed since the federal seizure of Backpage. The article claims an ‘unnamed source’ within the NYPD saying there has been no slow down since Backpage was shuttered. This newspaper seems to be one of the outlets that believe the ‘consenting adult’ myth as they quote a john who said that prostitution should be legal since gambling and marijuana are legal in some places. The problem with that analogy is marijuana and casino chips aren’t being repeatedly sold against their will.

    However, the article then goes on to not only mention a new website but links to the new site as well that is supposedly the sleazy heir apparent to Backpage. We’re not going to link to the article, the website, or mention the website by name, but the site looks like it’s trying to copy Backpage even right down to its site design. The ads on this new site seem to be even more blatant than the usually coded ads that appeared on Backpage. This new site also has the usual disclaimer that ads related to human trafficking will not be tolerated asking ad posters to click on a button that says ‘I agree’. They’re even trying to be more shifty than Backpage was. In my research, I was unable to find any information regarding who owns the new platform. Their social media presence is almost non-existent, however, I was able to find some information that the site does business in Texas although reports say the website itself is allegedly hosted in Canada.

    While the New York tabloids may be decrying that online sex trafficking has continued unabated since the closure of Backpage, it’s still too early to really tell. It’s only been less than two months since Backpage was seized so it’s still too early to say that it’s business as usual. At its height, Backpage was responsible for 80% of all online sex trafficking in the US by most reports and had the financial backing of a media company. In today’s post-FOSTA world it will be almost impossible for a website to be as lucrative as Backpage was at its zenith.

    The online sex trafficking trade has been severely splintered. While it may continue to exist it will never be at the level it was when Backpage was running things. This is a good thing despite protests to the contrary as it causes fewer victims to be trafficked against their will. While the fight against online human trafficking is a constant battle, there will be fewer casualties in the future.

  • Geebo 9:49 am on April 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Online Classifieds   

    Geebo: Stemming the tide of human trafficking at home 

    Geebo: Stemming the tide of human trafficking at home

    An example of many of the trafficking ads we’ve been receiving lately.

    As I’m sure you’ve read, Backpage.com was seized this past Friday by the Federal government. Two of its founders were not only indicted, but are currently sitting in jail. From the beginning, Backpage’s business model was based on the sexual slave trade, collecting as much as 99% of their revenue from the ads placed by pimps and traffickers. While making hundreds of millions of dollars in such an illicit way, the seizure of Backpage was the only logical way this could have ended.

    Since Backpage’s closure, Geebo has been receiving a torrent of ‘adult’ ad submissions for review. The keyword in that sentence is ‘review’ as Geebo has always reviewed ads for objectionable content. Thanks to the great software used under the hood at Geebo and the human curation done by our moderation staff, we have never allowed and never will allow Geebo to become a haven for those who would sell women and children into sexual servitude. Since day one and with little fanfare, Geebo has committed itself to keep its ads free from the likes posted on Backpage while maintaining a profitable business. Toward that end, Geebo was an industry trend setter when CEO Greg Collier made the decision to remove personal ads from the site in 2010 in order to prevent the ads from being abused by traffickers, where on other sites many victims are tricked into being trafficked through their personal ads.

    Another great thing about Geebo is that these decisions weren’t made due to public pressure or pending legislation. These decisions were made out of something that appears to be rare in the industry these days, and that is common human decency. Craigslist shut down there adult services section only after massive public pressure from the media, and closed their personals after the passage of FOSTA/SESTA, which is almost an admission that trafficking was still taking place on their personals. When the credit card companies cut off Backpage, they became so desperate to stay in business they started accepting payment for prostitution ads in cash, Bitcoin and gift cards. If they hadn’t been raided by Federal authorities there’s no doubt that Backpage would still be collecting money for these ads. Geebo shows that a classifieds site can be run ethically without having to resort to questionable ads designed to make money off of the suffering of others.

  • Geebo 10:12 am on January 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Online Classifieds, ,   

    Craigslist-like crimes overwhelming police 

    Craigslist crimes overwhelming police

    News station WKMG in Orlando, Florida, recently ran a report about crimes committed through online classifieds like craigslist and apps like OfferUp and LetGo have been overwhelming the detectives of the Orlando Police Department. One of their lead detectives says that robbery is the most common of the crimes committed, usually involving high-end smart phones since they involve a lot of money but are easy to grab. The detective goes on to name the usual suspects of which sites and apps these robberies are largely facilitated through and they are craigslist, OfferUp, LetGo and Facebook Marketplace.

    It used to be that meeting someone in a public place was enough to discourage any criminal activity from happening, but as time has progressed since the advent of online classifieds these rules have since changed since criminals have changed their tactics and have become more brazen. Now it is highly recommended to complete these transactions at your local police station as many of them have set up safe trading zones.

    Many of these classifieds sites and apps don’t offer this kind of advice or make it difficult to find. However, Geebo has a highly visible link in each of its ads to the SafeTrade initiative, where you can find a list of participating police stations across the country.

  • Geebo 9:41 am on October 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Online Classifieds   

    Facebook Marketplace already showing abuses 

    Facebook Marketplace already showing abuses

    Facebook recently relaunched its Marketplace section. In a nutshell it’s a space on the Facebook app that allows people to buy and sell various goods to each other. The problem is that it didn’t take long for illegal items and items against Marketplace’s guidelines to be offered for sale on the Facebook App. Drugs, guns, dogs and ‘adult services’ have all been offered for sale on the revamped app.

    Facebook has been slow to remove these ads but has said that in the future they’ll use a combination of community policing and employee moderation to keep future objectionable ads off their site. If history is any indicator it doesn’t seem like Facebook will remove these ads in time. If they take their usual 36 hours to remove an ad, that illegal item could have already been sold. More than likely Facebook will rely heavily on community policing, which if you look at craigslist’s community policing it will be more like the inmates running the asylum.

    Another problem with Facebook Marketplace is that Facebook is trying to keep you in their ‘walled garden’. That means they’re trying to be all things to all people in order to keep them on their site or app for as long as possible. Facebook doesn’t want you to go to any other site besides Facebook. The problem with walled gardens is that walls collapse and gardens die. The more Facebook tries to contain their users the closer it gets to being AOL of the 1990s, and who still uses AOL?

    Instead of using an unreliable service, your best bet is to use Geebo, the safer community classifieds. Here at Geebo we moderate our ads to make sure that nothing illegal or harmful is sold. As a socially conscious service, not only did our CEO Greg Collier eliminate the personals section to protect against human trafficking and other related crimes, but he also eliminated the sale of animals to discourage the use of puppy mills and animal related scams.

    While some online classifieds say that they’re socially responsible, Geebo not only talks the talk but it walks the walk as well.

  • Greg Collier 1:48 pm on March 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fair Girls, , , Johns, , Online Classifieds, Pimps, , , ,   

    Keeping the Fight Alive against Online Sex Ads 

    I recently came across a couple of articles in the New York Times that really left me feeling disheartened, kind of frustrated and definitely sad. They both focused on human trafficking trends, specifically the use of online classifieds sites as a forum for luring, pimping and selling young girls into the sex trade.

    The first, titled “Online Sex Trade Flourishing Despite Efforts to Curb It,” left a sting in me, not just because I’ve been behind many efforts to curb the use of online ad sites for soliciting sexual encounters but more because police seem to have a “love-hate” attitude about the online sex ads.

    What can anyone possibly love about this online sex trade? Yes, it’s a sad state of society that this modern-day slavery exists, but police explain that online ads have given them a new tool to learn more about this once-underground world and “crack the code” that pimps and johns use to set-up sexual encounters. While I won’t dispute the need for police to be up-to-speed on the latest techniques and technologies, we can’t lose sight of the fact that every ad that law enforcement takes time to study is an ad for a real person trapped in this horribly violent world.

    The second article, an Op-Ed titled “Where Pimps Peddle Their Goods,” honed in on the sites that turn a blind eye on these sorts of advertisements, specifically Backpage.com, an online classifieds operation owned by Village Voice Media. For many companies, a scathing set of words in the New York Times would be devastating but the folks at Backpage are defiant and defensive about all of it. After all, they’re trying to protect their bread-and-butter.

    The AIM Group, a research firm, reports that online prostitution advertising on five U.S. web sites generated at least $3.1 million in February 2012, a jump of nearly 10 percent from February 2011. Of that, nearly 80 percent – or about $2.5 million – came from Backpage. On an annual basis, the AIM Group estimates at least $36.6 million in advertising revenue, with more than two-thirds – $26 million – generated by Backpage.

    As the owner of Geebo, an online classifieds site that doesn’t host a forum for “personals” ads, I’m not reaping the financial rewards that come from these sorts of ads – but my conscience and I are sleeping well at night. I killed the personals section on Geebo in September 2010. For some time now, I’ve been standing out on that limb all alone, asking my industry counterparts to join me in removing personals ads from their sites but instead being met with a deafening silence in response.

    Fortunately, while my industry counterparts stay silent, other groups, such as FAIR Girls, are turning up the heat on these site owners and working to raise awareness about what’s really happening on these sites. Andrea Powell, co-founder and executive director of FAIR Girls, takes exception to the idea that Backpage is being responsible, as it claims, because it says it tries to screen ads for minors and alerts law enforcement when it suspects trafficking.

    “As an advocate who also searches for missing and exploited girls, I can say honestly that it is very hard to find sex trafficked girls using the online classified ad sites,” Powell said. “Pimps hide their victims in hotels, use fake names, and make a real effort to keep us from helping their victims escape. Online classified sites like Backpage.com make it easier for pimps, not victims. It’s the new frontier of sex trafficking, and we want to see these sites shut down.”

    At the very minimum, it’s time for sites like Backpage to recognize that they’re not helping the problem but instead are making it worse, providing pimps and johns with an anonymous access to an online marketplace for sex. Certainly, I’d welcome any of my competitors in classifieds to shut down but if they want to stay in the game, I’ll just keep asking that they at least kill the area of ads where pimps and johns continue to destroy innocent lives.

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