Tonight I appeared on CNN to discuss the recent arrest of the defendant in the Craigslist-related murder case. A young college graduate found a babysitting job offer on Criagslist and arranged to mee the person posting the job. It is still not known where the meeting took place, but her purse and a bloody cloth were found in a trash can in a local park. Her body was found later in the trunk of her car.
This is a tragedy. My deepest sympathies are extended to her family and loved ones.
But this is not the first murder of its kind. Just the first one associated with Craigslist.
The job offer ploy has been used since jobs were first invented. They are commonplace offline and growingly commonplace online. Offline you may be able to use your senses to find some obvious scammers (such as a nineteen-year-old seeking a babysitter) or someone who is drinking, or otherwise a bit creepy. But online everyone is who they want you to think they are.
I do TV over and over on these things. But they keep occuring. According to early reports, her family warned her not to meet this person alone. But she ignored their advice.
For what it's worth:
Never meet anyone from the Internet in real life unless you are accompanied by friends, preferably sumo-wrestlers.
Always meet in a public place where there are lots of people and someone will notice any distress.
Get offline references (he could easily be anyone else online, as well as himself), and check them.
Get a phone number that works, and test it.
Do a reverse name search online to see if it's a listed number.
If in doubt, pass on it.
If you suspect anything, leave at once and drive to a police station, not stright home.
Report it to help save the next person who may not be as careful.
Bottomline, when it comes to adults, your safety is in your hands!