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.”
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JUNE 6: Numerous changes have been made at the Omaha Police Department in the year since the in-custody death of Zachary Bearheels, who was shocked with a Taser a dozen times. Bearheels, a Native American, was bipolar and schizophrenic. READ MORE.
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JUNE 19: A west Omaha man who sent prostitutes to strip on his neighbor’s porch was sentenced Monday to six years in prison for possessing child pornography. READ MORE.
APRIL 20: Kayviaun Nelson was shot at the Irvington Walmart Supercenter at 6304 N. 99th St. She had been involved in a dispute elsewhere in Omaha and “it came to a head” in the Walmart lot. Two have been arrested in connection with her death. READ MORE.
MAY 22: The Omaha man — 19 when he committed his crimes — had just told a judge that his life hit a turning point after he had sat in jail for the past seven months, thinking about his crime of helping another teen use an online dating service to lure seven men to be robbed. Then Judge Mark Ashford pronounced his sentence: 24 to 40 years in prison. READ MORE.
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MAY 1: In a cold case that lasted 10 years from crime to conviction, it took just 10 minutes for Douglas County District Judge Thomas Otepka to sentence Charles Simmer, 34, to a life term for the Nov. 3, 2007, slaying of his aunt. READ MORE.
APRIL 26: Jacob Ford contended that he dropped his baby daughter and she hit her head on a crib railing and the floor. But prosecutors argued — and a judge agreed — that shaking and slamming were the causes of the massive brain damage that 7-week-old Skyler suffered. READ MORE.
APRIL 20: Judge Shelly Stratman estimated, conservatively, that the then-9-year-old boy was sexually assaulted about 52 times by a man he considered a father figure. It would have been easier to stay silent. But he spoke up. “He’s a very brave young man,” said Stratman. READ MORE.
APRIL 11: “I just enjoy killing. Simple as that.” In the days after he strangled an acquaintance, Airman 1st Class Rhianda Dillard, Wilsey poured out his thoughts, and his murderous ambitions, in the handwritten pages of his journal. READ MORE.
APRIL 9: A woman accused of driving drunk and causing a crash that killed a girl and injured the girl’s mother pleaded guilty to motor vehicle homicide and drunken driving/causing serious bodily injury. READ MORE.
JUNE 21: In one swipe, Christopher Wheeler forever changed Teresa Spagna’s life — leaving a “big scar” across her throat, and her psyche. Judge Shelly Stratman sentenced Wheeler to 30 days in jail, followed by five years of probation. Wheeler, who had no record, had faced up to 20 years in prison. READ MORE.
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FEB. 21: A former Douglas County jailer at the center of a love-triangle killing will see the inside of a correctional facility from a new perspective. READ MORE.
FEB. 9: The now-17-year-old victim gave an ultimatum to Judge Duane Dougherty: Impose a sentence of 52 years. “If you give him anything less than (that), you are basically saying that you don’t care if it happens again,” the girl said. “You’re putting another person at risk of having to go through what I’ve gone through. And nobody should have to go through what I’ve gone through.” READ MORE.
MARCH 10: Three girls who looked to Lee Dunbar as a father were, instead, sexually assaulted by him. A jury decided as much in January. On Friday, Douglas County District Judge Marlon Polk sentenced Dunbar, a 67-year-old retired Omaha fire captain, to the minimum sentence of 15 years on each of the five first-degree sexual assault counts he had been convicted of. READ MORE.
JAN. 23: A gang member prosecutors describe as a “menace” was sentenced to life in prison for firing 10 shots at a rival gang member in the middle of the day — and instead killing Barbara Williams, 55, a grandma who had been chatting on a stoop. READ MORE.
JAN. 18: A man accused of fatally shooting an Army sergeant outside a bar stole his necklaces and later admitted to the shooting, a prosecutor said. Kyle LeFlore, 27, was shot in the chest at close range and died soon after being rushed to the hospital early Jan. 6. READ MORE.