As an answer to a rash of nationwide robberies involving transactions originating online, the Suffolk County sheriff’s office has announced the creation of two so-called “safe transaction zones.”
Buyers and sellers can meet at the zones — adjacent to security checkpoints outside the sheriff’s offices in Riverhead and Yaphank — to close deals without having to fear being robbed, scammed or assaulted, officials said Wednesday.
The zones are marked with red and white signs and are “in full view of on-duty deputy sheriffs,” officials said.
The plan is to enhance the areas with security surveillance. Deputies will not participate in exchanges or act as official witnesses, and transactions times do not have to be scheduled or coordinated with the sheriff’s office.
The zones are designed to “help protect citizens from various crimes associated with online transactions, including robberies, thefts and assault,” officials said.
The sheriff’s office also offered safety tips for participants in online transactions who do not make arrangements to finalize those deals in the safe transaction zones.
Those tips include:
* Do not go to a transaction alone.
* Make sure a friend or family member is aware of the transaction details.
* Insist on meeting in a public area.
* Do not go into someone else’s house, and do not allow them into yours.
* Complete the transaction during daylight hours.
* Be extra cautious when buying or selling valuable items such as vehicles and jewelry.
* Only use cash or money orders to complete your transactions.
* Trust your instincts: If it sounds like a scam, it probably is.