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Police have identified the victim in Tuesday's murder at Boston's upscale Marriott Copley Place as Julissa Brisman of New York, who was only 26 years old. Brisman was described as an aspiring model and actress, but appears to have been working as a masseuse and advertising her services on the Internet (craigslist to be specific). It was this last part that police believe got her in trouble, when a man some now call the "Craigslist killer" shot Brisman to death in an apparent robbery attempt. Alarmingly, this does not appear to be an isolated incident either, according to the Boston Globe:
"Police said the crime appears linked to the April 10 robbery of the Las Vegas woman at the Westin. That woman, who was bound and gagged and robbed of a debit card, $800 in cash, and $250 in American Express gift cards, had also advertised massage services on Craigslist."
Unfortunately, online advertising is an area rife with opportunities for criminals and unsavory types to target potential victims in scams or worse. Anonymity or false identities are easily established and preserved, and communication is often via e-mail or messaging, which can be harder to track. The bottom line is that people advertising or buying services and goods online need to take great care that they do not unwittingly expose themselves to fraud or violent crimes.
Whether you are selling or buying items and/or services, or meeting people online, here are some simple safety tips to follow when meeting with people in person:
1. Do so in a public area. Do not meet with people in your or their private home. Unfortunately, online advertising for services that require privacy carries inherent risks.
2. Bring a friend with you, at the very least for the initial meeting, preferably to stay.
3. Tell people where you're going, who you are meeting, and when.
4. If something about the person, or the transaction doesn't feel right, just don't go through with it.
5. Just like a cabby, make clear you will have limited cash and no credit at hand. Obviously, if you are buying something in cash, this may be tough, but that's where all of the other tips above come into play.
Craigslist, which has already had unwanted attention directed at its use for prostitution, is reported to be cooperating with police in tracking down Julissa Brisman's killer. Hopefully, this will happen very soon, and police have release photos of a "person of interest" in the case.