Internet exchange safe spaces welcomed relief for online buyers

Three locations will be under around the clock surveillance for Internet exchanges.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Richmond County Sheriff’s office is being proactive to cut down on crimes that stem from the Internet.

Selling or buying items online or from an app straight from your cell phone helps customers circumvent going to the store, but with convenience comes the possibility of a crime.  That’s what 16-year-old Genesis Williams wants to avoid.

“I sold a camera on Amazon because I wasn’t using it and he was asking weird questions so I blocked him and just moved on,” said Williams.

Nearly all of his sales are without incident. But Williams told NewsChannel 6 that one online buyer made him beware.

He said, “It was like after dark and I was like can I meet you in the morning, in the daytime. He said no I’m coming now. Meet me now. I told my mom and she said just block him, so I blocked him.”

With the click of a button, Williams was safe and alive to make the next sale.

Captain Allan Rollins said the Sheriff’s Office has taken reports of exchanges that went horribly wrong.

“They met at a parking lot at a restaurant,” Rollins said about one reported exchange. “They guy was there to sell stolen cell phones. And the guys that come up to get the cell phones were going to rob him of the cell phones. So they pulled a plastic gun. He took off running. They took off running. The gun was laying in the parking lot. He runs next door and he’s got stolen cell phones so nobody was going to be a winner in that one.”

This catastrophe is why the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office launched Internet Exchange Safe Spaces. Three area spots; the old Law Enforcement Center on Walton Way, Charles B. Webster Detention Center on Phinizy Road and the Marshal’s Office space at the Municipal Building downtown.   Those are the locations citizens can meet to exchange internet purchases under 24-hour surveillance by deputies.

“Our office building here, we have cameras all over the place. It’s part of that security system. We can go back and review it if we need to. On occasion we go through and we’re watching them, we’re checking them we’re seeing how things are going in the parking lot,” he said.

The safe spaces are welcomed news for avid seller Genesis Williams.

“I feel safer with police. Many people think that the police are a harm. They don’t mean no harm. Just do what you’re supposed to do and I guess a good outcome will come,” he said.

Captain Rollins stressed that the safe spaces are created so that the buyer and the seller are not victimized during the exchanges.


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