Gumtree Australia Support Knowledgebase - Safety - Types of Scams on Gumtree
Homepage-Icon-SVGs Homepage-Icon-SVGs Homepage-Icon-SVGs Homepage-Icon-SVGs Homepage-Icon-SVGs
Experiencing tech issues? Update your app to the latest version. More details: Current technical issues & troubleshooting
Be wary of requests for your email address sent in an image format. Gumtree does not use a delivery service or Gumtree Bot. We will never send communication via text or Whatsapp. Click here for more help

Types of Scams on Gumtree

Recently we’ve had several reports from users about online transactions that seemed innocent at first, but ultimately were a scam. The following tactics may indicate the online transaction is a scam:

1. Refusing to use PayPal

PayPal is considered one of the safest methods for transferring money online. Most posters will agree to use PayPal for their transaction. If they insist on completing the transaction through a bank transfer, please proceed with caution.

(Remember, if you pay via PayPal, the seller does not need your PayPal information.)

2. Telling users they will post the item as soon as they’ve received money via online transfer.

Legitimate posters do state this, but scammers are starting to use it to their advantage. Be on the lookout for excuses that may delay them from sending the item. 

For example: “My bank takes three days, so I probably won’t see the money till Thursday. When I get the money, I’ll send it.”

Nowadays, most online transfers are received within 24 hours. If the user says it will take longer, they’re likely buying time to receive the money and transfer it to an untraceable account.

3. Sense of urgency

If scammers think you’re hesitant on the sale, they create a sense of urgency so you complete the transfer right away. They may do this by telling you they’ve received a lot of interest or that someone closer wants to purchase the item.

4. Sad stories

Fraudsters try to manipulate the Gumtree community by using sad stories to gain your compassion and trust.

If you haven’t received the item you’ve paid for, and the poster is using a death in the family or an accident as an excuse, it’s likely the ad is a scam.

Unfortunately, tragic things do happen to good people — including our users — so investigate this with caution on the off-chance it’s true.

5. Using slang and unstuffy language

While many scams follow a script (see SMS fraud), sometimes fraudsters use conversational and casual language to put the user at ease. Their motive is to make you feel comfortable that they’re not the typical overseas scammer. 

Some phrases we’ve seen are:

  • I’ve had lots of dramas
  • When it hits my account

If the poster uses an abnormal amount of slang, especially when making an excuse, please be wary of the transaction.

If you decide to purchase an item online, here are some tips:

  • Ask for new, original photos of the product
  • Insist on using PayPal through Gumtree messages
  • If you send money via PayPal, do not label the transaction as a “gift,” and ensure that your specific transaction will be eligible for their purchase protection program.
  • Do not panic if a poster is trying to rush the process. Make sure you do your due diligence. If the seller moves on, the item will probably come along again. We see thousands of new ads posted on Gumtree every day.
  • And as always, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.