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Meeting to finish online sale ends with group robbed at gunpoint

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A group trying to complete an online sale ended up being robbed at gunpoint.

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It happened around 9 p.m. Sunday near the Cromwell Pavilion in Cromwell, the Carlton County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

The victims had made arrangements with the suspects online to possibly finalize a sale. But when they met, the two suspects pulled out a handgun, robbed the group and fled.

Carlton County Sheriff's Office Investigator Dan Danielson told BringMeTheNews it wasn't a typical "Craigslist deal gone wrong" situation, but said he could not offer details because it's an active investigation.

He said they're "investigating the relationship between the groups," figuring out if there was a previous connection, and what it might have been.

Danielson also said he can not say at this point what was being sold, or how much it was worth.

The victims gave descriptions to police, and Duluth police located the vehicle and made two arrests. Both suspects – a 19-year-old from Cromwell, and a 20-year-old from Duluth – were arrested.

They're in custody, awaiting charges.

Safe spots for online swaps

While this situation wasn't a Craigslist deal gone wrong, these types of robberies have increased over the past decade, as the internet has become a more popular place to find buyers and sellers, the Better Business Bureau says.

In response,police departments and sheriff's offices have been setting up safe swap spot – a lot of time they're in brightly lit, on-camera spaces at law enforcement offices, so people can feel safe meeting strangers they connected with online to complete a sale.

So for example the Shakopee Police Department has one, which it reminded people after a cellphone sale turned into a robbery, which then led to a Wal-Mart parking lot shootout.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office launched some last summer, where a deputy can be present if requested. Otherwise they’re just in the lobby of the three sheriff’s office buildings, open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Danielson said the Cromwell Police Department and Carlton County Sheriff's Office do not have a specific swap spot for people, and said it hasn't really been an issue for them.

"I guess our area’s been pretty quiet," he said. "Not that we’re immune from it, but that hasn’t been an issue here."

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