Following alleged assault, RCMP warns students to exercise caution when meeting online sellers

Update Friday, June 8 at 7:45 p.m: The four alleged attackers — Xueming Chen, Zi Qi Fan, Jiacheng Huo and Zhuo Ran Li — are “charged with kidnapping without the use of a firearm, assault with a weapon or causing harm and robbery.” Huo and Fan are also charged with “possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose.” None of them are UBC students.

University RCMP is warning students to exercise caution when meeting with online buyers and sellers in person after two individuals, including a UBC student, were allegedly assaulted and robbed on Wednesday morning.

A UBC student purchased a laptop from a seller only to discover afterward that it contained child pornography. The buyer and their friend confronted the seller, and they agreed to return it at a set place.

There, the UBC student and their friend were allegedly assaulted by four men who forced one of them into a vehicle. The other managed to escape and inform RCMP, who took the four men into custody.

University RCMP Staff Sergeant Chuck Lan said it’s an important reminder to meet in safe locations when making trades arranged online and to contact authorities when illegally activity is suspected.

“It’s always best to bring a friend and let people know where you are going … and pick a place where you know there’s going to be a number of people around,” Lan said, adding that the front of the University RCMP building “is always an option” for students unsure of where to meet.

Lan then stressed that in cases where the buyer unintentionally purchased a device containing illegal material, they will usually not be held responsible for it.

“We tend to see the buyer as a victim in most cases like this,” said Lan.

Lan was unable to comment on specifics of the case or the identities of the alleged attackers, as the investigation is still ongoing.