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It was finally time to pass on my old personal phone, a Samsung Galaxy S7. What better way than via Gumtree? Naturally someone tried to rip me off. Welcome to the Gumtree scam.

Before I go on, I should point out that it isn’t Gumtree trying to scam anyone. Indeed, as one of Australia’s favourite places to sell and buy stuff, Gumtree is aware of these things. It’s a good idea if you’re going to use Gumtree to first have a quick look through its articles on operating safely. When my suspicions were aroused, that’s what I did.

No, it’s third parties engaging in the Gumtree scam.

Now, back to my phone.

Before the Gumtree scam

The S7 was my personal phone, for which I paid personal money a few years ago. I have long since retired it, but it remained an unused backup, just in case. Now it was time for it to go to good use with someone else.

The first step was to check Gumtree to see the amount for which similar models were listed. Since my phone was in superb condition, I listed it for $300 and uploaded a few pictures. I figured that price would give me a reasonable amount of downwards negotiating room.

A quick approach

Within an hour of listing, I received a Gumtree user email. It was from, um, “John”. “Hey mate,someone want to purchase it today,email him at [email protected]” (sic – all the following quotes are sic)

Gumtree scam

Note, I’m leaving in these email addresses. Would-be thieves, which is the proper name for Gumtree scam artists, don’t get to have their privacy protected, in my view.

Now, “John” was listed as a “Gummie since 2019”, and when I later checked he had no record of other purchases, nor sales listings. That’s suspicious. So was the fact that he was contacting me on behalf of someone else.

But there was no harm in following along a few steps to see where things went. I emailed the mentioned address with the subject line “Samsung Galaxy S7” as follows: “Someone replied to my gumtree ad for this phone, saying you’d like to purchase it. Correct?”

Within minutes I received a reply from “Ola Paul”. He said, “hi,am currently in am buying it from here and i will be paying via PayPal and pay the shipping cost you will help me ship it to china ok?”

Gumtree scam

Ah, overseas eh? Tough bickies ensuring payment. And why would someone in China want an Australian-optimised smart phone, anyway? “Ola Paul” was starting to look like a Gumtree scam artist to me. Still, I agreed, but said that “I’d be seeking payment first in the circumstances. Is that okay with you?”

“Ola Paul” came back., “ok i will add 40 for express shipping fee..send me your PayPal email address for the payment”.

Gumtree scam

At my request, he supplied his postal address – Ola paul, Pengbu Zhangjiaba 322 Jianggan, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, 310000, China (Phone number 1565800077), in case anyone’s interested.

Now for payment

I emailed “Ola Paul” my PayPal email address, he asked me the total price and I told him: $340 including shipping.