CHARLOTTE — A local 17-year-old and her mom are warning everyone to be careful what they post online.
Elizabeth posted on Nextdoor hoping to find babysitting jobs, but the messages she started getting from a man who seemed very eager made her feel uneasy.
“It got weird when he started texting me like seven times in a row like, ‘Hello, why aren’t you responding?’ Like saying things like that -- that was weird. And then he said, like, ‘bring a friend,’” Elizabeth said. “And I was like, ‘that’s not good.’”
She shut the conversation down and her mom went on Nextdoor and posted screenshots of the texts. The texts read, “How would you like to make money upwards of $200 an hour? It’s really very, very simple. I need an answer. You and one of your female friends.” Then they escalated to, “Elizabeth can I call you? Elizabeth? Can I call you? Question for you? Hello? Can I explain, just hear me out!!!”
Elizabeth’s mother, Tina, also posted a warning, saying, “Beware stranger danger! Daughter propositioned by aggressive and suspicious stranger via babysitting post on Nextdoor. Please be careful about posting phone numbers and alert your young daughters.”
Tina said when she saw what happened, she knew she had to take action.
“I watch a lot of crime shows,” Tina told Channel 9. “So, I was determined that we’re going to do something about this.”
Tina alerted Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. Officer Johnathan Frisk told her even if a crime is not committed, if someone is acting suspicious, CMPD wants to know. And in a case like this, Frisk recommended keeping all contact on the same social media site where it originates for safety reasons.
“So, if it is Nextdoor then stay on Nextdoor, that way a lot of things are traceable and trackable,” Frisk said.
Frisk suggests if you want to post a contact phone number, use a tool like Google Voice. If you download the app, it can generate a “secondary” number for you in your area. It’s something that could have helped as an added buffer for Elizabeth and her mom. Her post offering childcare actually still had an old photo of her when she was just 13 years old, and it had her real cell phone number.
“I was so scared,” Elizabeth said. “He was gonna find out, like, where I lived or something.”
Frisk also suggests if you must post contact information, use an email address -- but not one that reveals your full name.
Channel 9 reached out to Nextdoor, which said it has a team dedicated to ensuring the platform is safe. The company also shared some safety resources. Both can be found below:
Statement from Nextdoor:
“Neighbors around the world turn to Nextdoor daily to receive trusted information, give and get help, get things done, and build real-world connections with those nearby. Safety is an important topic of conversation in the neighborhood, and we have provided resources for neighbors on how to communicate about crime on Nextdoor. We have a dedicated Trust & Safety Team that works hard to ensure Nextdoor is a safe environment for all neighbors. One of the things most unique to Nextdoor is that the platform is trusted and secure because we require people to sign up with their true identity, but it is still always important to follow online safety practices. We’ve included some helpful links to tools below for your reference.”
As buying and selling items online has become more popular, CMPD also wants to remind people about exchange zones. They have partnered with local QuickTrip gas stations to create safe spaces.
“There are two parking spaces at all those locations here in Charlotte. There’s 24/7 video monitoring,” Frisk said. “That way if something were to happen, then we can have a description of the person; we have the make and model of the vehicle.”
If you have to make one of these transactions, Officer Frisk also encourages you not to go alone.
For a list of all of the exchange zone locations, click here.
(WATCH BELOW: Attorney general wants company to pay for role in robocalls in North Carolina)
©2022 Cox Media Group