Police today warned users of the popular classifieds website Gumtree to be on their guard after a man who responded to a car advert was almost killed in a brutal robbery.
On July 30 the 42-year-old took a large amount of cash to meet the supposed seller of a VW Golf in Barking, east London. He was punched, kicked and stabbed while trying to hold on to his bag, witnesses reported.
He was rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery.
It later emerged that the registered owner of the Golf had no idea it had been advertised for sale.
A 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old youth were arrested near the scene. The pair are out on police bail until October 7 pending further investigation and Barking CID today appealed for more information.
DCI Ellie O'Connor said the incident was rare but should remind online classifieds users to use common sense when meeting buyers and sellers.
"Do not go to the meeting point alone, do not carry large amounts of cash on your person, make sure that you meet in a busy area and never allow yourself to be lured away from a safe meeting place," she cautioned.
In recent years there has been a steady stream of reports of classifieds violence and scams in the US, where Craigslist dominates. Such incidents have proved relatively rare in the UK, although earlier this month a man went on trial in Leeds for allegedly raping a Chinese backpacker he had met via a "couchsurfing" website. ®