You can’t always trust people you deal with online.

That’s a lesson some people learned the hard way in Lincoln after three separate encounters arranged on social media went awry.

In one case early Tuesday, Lincoln police said, a 19-year-old man was talking on Facebook to someone he thought was a woman. The two agreed to meet at Antelope Park shortly before 2 a.m.

When he arrived, a man pulled him out of the car, accused him of “stealing” and punched him in the face. A woman then drove away in his 2002 Pontiac Grand Am, police say.

The man had a cut on his chin and redness consistent with his report. His cellphone also was stolen.

A few hours later, at 6 a.m., a man was taken to a hospital after he showed up at a Lincoln police substation with head injuries. According to police, he was confronted by an armed man when he showed up to meet a woman he had been communicating with online.

The most serious encounter occurred around 1 a.m. Friday, when a 21-year-old pregnant woman was shot in the buttocks after a failed drug deal that had been set up online. The woman and her 23-year-old boyfriend agreed to meet a 16-year-old relative at Roper Park after he contacted them asking to buy marijuana.

When the couple arrived at the park, police said, a 17-year-old boy tried to rob them. When they refused to hand over the marijuana, the boy struck the boyfriend in the face with a gun. The gun went off and a round struck the woman in the buttocks. Police arrested both the 16-year-old and the 17-year-old.

These types of social media-related scams are not uncommon, said Officer Angela Sands, a Lincoln police spokeswoman.

Sands encouraged people to use common sense and follow basic Internet safety. Meetings with strangers should be held where other people are around, and people should bring friends with them to the meetings. In general, Sands said, trust your gut.

A similar incident in which a man was robbed in a parking lot prompted the Lincoln Police Department to create a “Swap Spot” at the police station at 1501 N. 27th St. for people buying and selling items online. The area offers a safe space for people to meet in a video-recorded, well-lit area.

“Anytime you meet with a stranger in a secluded place,” Sands said, “there’s inherent risks.”

Sign up for World-Herald news alerts

Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.