City creates safe haven for online traders

Jul 06, 2017

The city council has voted to provide space on the Mill Creek Municipal Campus as a secure place for buyers and sellers who use eBay, Craig’s List, Offer-Up or any of the other person-to-person Internet commerce sites.

Based on a recommendation from Police Chief Greg Elwin, the council designated one space in front of city hall and another near the front door to city hall north. Both spaces will be well-lit and monitored by video camera. The program is based on similar programs in Lakewood and Oak Harbor that cut down on instances of both fraud and violence

Elwin explained to the council that the public meeting place is a better option for traders than meeting at an empty park-and-ride lot.

“This will not eliminate the possibility of somebody trying to offer a fake $5,000 diamond on Craig’s List for 50 bucks,” Elwin said. “But fraudulent sellers are more likely to drive up and then drive away if they know they’re image and license plate are being recorded.”

Councilmember Mike Todd was concerned that the spaces would create a liability for the city. The chief responded by saying, “The risk is offset by the benefits.”

The need for a city-sponsored safe haven was prompted by a rise in the number of fraud cases reported to the Mill Creek Police. Unmonitored trades have also led to buyers being assaulted robbed when they arrive to make the transaction.

“We’re all sorry this is even necessary,” Elwin said after the meeting. “Unfortunately, this has become a reality of the world we live in.”

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