The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Craigslist Sale Gone Bad: Tips for Not Getting Robbed at Gunpoint

We try never to blame the victim. But really? This is kind a duh moment.

Two 19-year-old men wanted to rid themselves of some excess electronics, specifically two iPhones and five other cell phones. They turned to the infamous online classified site The problem with craigslist, as well as all other forms of classified ads, is that there is no screening.

The “buyer” could be a nice elderly woman buying iPhones for the grandkids. Or she could be two young men in a Nissan armed with fake cash and a handgun.

Betty White or Billy the Kid, you don't meet a craigslist buyer at 8:55 p.m. at a gas station. This is doubly true when your cargo is expensive electronics that retail for a few hundred dollars each.

The sellers showed up first. The "buyers" showed up as well. One tried to pay with fake cash. When questioned, he pulled out a handgun and took the phones, cash, and one of the victims' wallet, cigarettes, keys, and phone, reports the Glendale News Press.

The armed robber was described as black, 6' 4", and wearing a hooded sweatshirt and baseball cap. The other robber was also black, wearing a sweater, and a baseball cap. In a city of millions, they will surely be identified soon.

Selling on craigslist requires a little bit of planning and a lot of common sense.


If you are selling valuable items, it may help to sell them in broad daylight at a safe public place, like a Starbucks or a bank. The key is witnesses and hopefully a lot of surveillance cameras. These gentlemen met their buyers at night in a gas station parking lot. Not wise at all.


Another thing to consider is the possibility of fake or fraudulent payment. There has rarely been a documented case of a craigslist transaction involving money orders or Western Union wire transfers that has turned out well. Customers that want to buy things via the mail and/or pay electronically are almost certainly planning fraud.


Conduct transactions in person, in public and with cash only. If you have suspicions about the currency, meeting in a bank can make identifying funny money a lot easier. If you can bring a friend, have them stand at a distance, pretending not to know you. They can call 9-1-1 if when the buyer pulls out a gun.

Related Resources: