John Purcell/Recorder staff

Amsterdam police officers have designated the lobby at the Amsterdam Public Safety Building as an “Internet purchase exchange location,” which residents can use when completing transactions for items purchased through an online marketplace.

By JOHN PURCELL
Recorder News Staff

Amsterdam police are seeking to help residents who might be leery that a deal offered by a local seller through an online marketplace could be scam.
The Amsterdam Police Benevolent Association has designated an “internet purchase exchange location” at the Amsterdam Public Safety Building on Guy Park Avenue. Amsterdam-based Summit Signs & Designs made and donated a sign signifying the designation, which is being hung in the lobby in front of the police department headquarters. The lobby is under constant video surveillance.
Officer Joe Spencer said the idea for the sign came from seeing other law enforcement agencies posting on social media about making such an exchange point.
“We latched onto it, thought it was a great idea and we wanted to bring it to the city,” Spencer said.
There have been a few instances of fraud cases in the city stemming from items purchased through online marketplaces, which spurred investigations and led to arrests, according to Spencer. He said the incidents locally have related to counterfeit or inoperable items being sold, with the buyer not realizing until after the purchase is completed.
“We wanted to give people another step in vetting the person they’re buying it from,” Spencer said. “We can’t prevent you from being defrauded, but we want to give you that extra step of security.”
Spencer said if someone has a problem with completing an exchange in the lobby outside of the police station, it should be a “red flag” for the buyer or seller. He said some locations people have used for exchanges are meeting near a Thruway exit or in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant.
Christopher Kordyjak, co-owner of Summit Signs & Designs, said he thought the idea for the exchange point was a great idea.
“It’s a safe place for a transaction,” Kordyjak said.
Kordyjak, of Perth, said he’s purchased items from people who have posted ads on Craigslist. All of his exchanges to date have went well, but he said adding another element of protection isn’t a bad idea.
“All of mine luckily have been good, but with fake money and everything else that’s out there these days, you never know who you’re meeting,” Kordyjak said.
Officer Mike Palmerino said he worked on a case involving someone purporting to sell an iPhone, but inside the box there wasn’t a smartphone. Palmerino said when the buyer returned home and opened the box, they found batteries taped together. Police arrested that seller after investigating the incident.
“People who are going to buy stuff through a Facebook garage sale or through Craigslist may be more inclined to do the property exchange at the department, because it’s a safe place,” Palmerino.
Spencer said there have been incidents where someone purchased a smartphone or tablet, but when they go home turn on the device they’ll find the device has been deactivated since it was stolen.
When purchasing electronic devices, Spencer said the seller should bring the adapter and cord and the buyer should always turn on the device before the transaction is completed.