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With over 85 killings linked to transactions on Craigslist, police and sheriff’s departments around the U.S. have launched safety and security initiatives — encouraging people making in-person transactions that originated online to use police stations to complete the deals.

Now, the AIM Group, the world’s leading consulting company for classified advertising businesses, has launched a “SafeTrade” initiative as a public service to promote the use of police facilities to meet and conduct safe transactions with strangers.

“SafeTrade can eliminate almost all of the killings, robberies and rip-offs associated with buying and selling on Craigslist and other online sites,” said Peter M. Zollman, founding principal of the AIM Group. “Simply by meeting at a police station, buyers and sellers can trade with confidence that they will be safe.

“It’s a tragedy that the phrase ‘Craigslist killer’ has become almost a generic term. We have documented 84 killings linked to Craigslist transactions since 2007. In 2014 alone, there were 21 killings associated with Craigslist transactions, including three in one 24-hour period. And there have been four already in 2015. That’s outrageous! Craigslist could and should do much more to promote safety and security for its users.”

SafeTrade is a simple program for police and sheriff’s departments to encourage transactions at their facilities; for classified sites to strengthen their safety and security initiatives, and for users to insist on “SafeTrade” by conducting their transactions only at a police or sheriff’s office.

The SafeTrade logo can be used (without charge) on any ads posted; by classified websites, newspapers and publications to promote safety and security, and by police departments to indicate they are hosting SafeTrade online transactions. The website is www.safetradestations.com.

In the past few months, a number of U.S. police departments have offered to host online transactions, most of them referring to Craigslist as the reason. Participating police departments can now post banners or use logos referring to their facilities as SafeTrade Stations.

“We want to do all that we can to provide a safe environment to perform these transactions that were started online,” said Officer David Baldwin of the Marietta, Ga., police department. “People who make these transactions online are going to meet face to face; we will definitely provide a safe place for them. Their safety is the most vital concern that we have.”

The AIM Group will work with classified sites to launch safety programs under the SafeTrade program, and will provide support for SafeTrade Stations. 

“It’s not enough any more to say ‘bring a friend’ and ‘conduct your transactions in public.’ Two guys even tried to rip off a county sheriff in a deal that started on Craigslist1. By moving these deals to a police station or sheriff’s department, people can feel safe. Even when there are no officers around, a robber or rip-off artist never knows when an armed officer will show up — and probably won’t be willing to make a deal at the police station.”

The SafeTrade program will be available to classified sites in the U.S. and internationally.

“If we can prevent just one rip-off, scam or killing, it will be worth it,” said Zollman. “Everyone who participates in a transaction online should be safe. SafeTrade will make that easier.”

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          Peter M. Zollman and Jim Townsend of the AIM Group are available for interviews about the SafeTrade initiative. Call 407-788-2780 to arrange an interview.

A detailed spreadsheet with a verifiable listing of each of the 84 killings related to Craigslist transactions is posted at craigslistkillings.blogspot.com .

A list of police and sheriff’s departments that have announced SafeTrade or similar programs is available at SafeTradeStations.com .

— Two men were arrested in January in Boise, Idaho, on charges they tried to rob Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney using an ad on Craigslist for computers as bait. Details here.