The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) announced this week that the Safe Trade project is now operational in West Nipissing. The project has the goal of creating a “community safe zone” at the OPP detachment, at 880 Levac Road, Cache Bay, for people to conclude online transactions in the “perceived presence of law enforcement.”
“Online classified and auction sites are often used as tools to sell stolen property to unknowing victims and can present a safety threat. In order to increase public safety and reduce crime, the Nipissing West Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police is inviting members of the public to use their OPP detachment parking lot to facilitate property transactions arranged online,” reads a media release issued on July 4th.
Though the police lot is available for this purpose, the OPP does caution that their role is not to intervene as mediators, witnesses or to provide documentation. However, if they are asked to respond they will, and “officers will only intervene if the transaction becomes a bylaw, provincial or criminal matter.” They also encourage members of the public to use the Canadian Police Information Centre’s (CPIC) online database to look up serial numbers of items before purchasing, at https://www.cpic-cipc.ca.
The OPP also provided a “Safe Trade Checklist” for potential buyers to stay safe while conducting business online. Tips include “Meet in a busy public place; meet in person to inspect the product; bring a trusted friend or family member along as a witness; bring a cell phone in case you need to call for help; tell a friend or family member when and where you are meeting someone; keep transactions to daylight hours; do not invite a stranger into your home; do not erase any e-mails, texts or voicemails between yourself and the seller or buyer; never mail a cheque or wire money to sellers; do not give out personal or banking information (social insurance number, bank account number, etc.).”
OPP statistics say that only 5% of internet or telephone scams, frauds and thefts are reported due to victims feeling shame or embarrassment that they were duped. The Safe Trade project is a tool to help reduce the overall number of those incidents, by providing community members a place that they can feel more confident when conducting business with other individuals they don’t know.