I am a member, yep, and we do see this from time to time. Maybe once a month or so. We actually screen every single message that comes through the system - and we stop or flag anything that looks like extortion or abuse.
Some owners put their phone numbers public, though, so they get contacted directly. We try and point out in several places when registrants are making data public.
There’s also some things we do in the back end when looking at certain things related to accounts that I won’t detail here for the obvious reasons - lest the bad guys catch on – but we generally look for anybody abusing the system. This can range from things like extortion etc to spamming to trying to use Bike Index to sell people bikes. All of which are prohibited.
Anybody who runs websites or deals with fraudsters probably has an idea of the kind of stuff we’re talking about, because this kind of abuse is endemic these days.
What we find in general is that
- 98% of the people sending in tips are honest good folks looking to fight bike theft
- The 2% that aren’t cause 80% of the work/problems/grief/annoyance
- Very very rarely does the thief who stole the bike turn around and try and extort the owner. What happens more is the bike changes hands 1 to 5 times, and the guy who gets left holding it at the end and realizes he can’t sell it (because it’s on Bike Index) will reach out and try a BS story about “I paid X for this you should reimburse me”
- Offerup makes this process infinately harder. We’ve seen the same bike sold 3X in a week by flippers on offerup. First thief sells a $1200 bike for $100, next guy sells it for $200, next guy sells it for $250, etc. There’s a whole army of grey market buyers and sellers out there that simply don’t give a shit as long as they make a profit
Lastly: there’s sometime utility in letting these kinds of folks announce themselves and make themselves known as bad guys, so we can trap the message and/or work with the victims before we ban them. Many a victim has played along and shown up with law enforcement - much to the surprise of the seller. We generally handle this on a case-by-case basis. (Sometimes this gets interesting because the cops may not be interested in helping out until they hear who is involved, realize they have a bunch of warrants out, and then suddenly they’re very interested because they now know where and when that person is showing up.)
So, yeah, we do ban a lot of users and we also collect information on known thieves and their various ID’ing data.
FWIW: something like this just came up with the Cat6 burglary - and I can’t necessarily lay it all out here - but one of the involved folks is known to us from a prior incident, also involving a bike shop robbery. So when they popped up we attempted to get the same police dept and same officer involved who dealt with them the first time, i.e. since that officer is already familiar with them and motivated to go chase them again.