Craigslist + footballer with a taser = PR disaster

Ellis T. Jones III, a 20 year old former football player, has been arrested in San Jose, California for allegedly using Craigslist to lure potential buyers and sellers of electronic equipment to places where he could stun them with a taser and rob them.

This is just the kind of thing that could spell trouble for online services seeking to bring people together in the meatspace (real life). Jones is charged with 13 felonies over 4 robberies in June. Craigslist says it’s a rare occurrence, and while that’s undoubtedly true – isn’t this exactly the kind of story that makes people apprehensive about meeting strangers based on online communication? According to the San Jose Mercury News story on the Jones arrest – there are at least two other people who have been arrested lately for similar but unrelated crimes.

Score another point for online systems based on reputation management and shipping purchased items in the mail. See our coverage of Rapleaf, for example.