Moments later, he replied: “payment made,check your email address inbox and spam for the confirmation”.

Gumtree scam

Note: “and spam”! Sounds like the voice of experience. No emails appeared in my inbox, so I checked spam. Ah, there it was:

Gumtree scam

Imagine that, PayPal using a gmail account for its communications. As for the email itself … ludicrous:

Gumtree scam

Basically, it’s saying that the purchaser had made payment, but that PayPal was holding the funds until I confirmed that I had shipped the item. So, of course, I’d only find out that there was no real payment after I had shipped the item to obtain the relevant information.

The email is inadvertently hilarious. Apart from the terrible grammar, the email says things that a business would never say. Such as, “Also, this is where we generate our income, because the more transaction made through PayPal, the more we generate our Income.”

There’s also the nice suggestion that one could have the FBI after one: “Failure to abide by these laid down safety measures by Paypal may leads to suspension from PayPal and further more invitation to an interrogation with the FBI”.

And, of course, there’s another self-congratulatory note: “So can you see we are very considerate about the safety of both buyer and seller.”

Yes, so very, very considerate.

Paying to be scammed

I did a cursory check of courier costs. Indeed, it would have cost around $40 to send the phone to him. So this thief would not only have deprived me of my property, I would have paid the $40 bill for actually sending the stolen goods to the thief. Good trick!

Of course, I have engaged in no further correspondence with “Ola Paul”. I doubt I’ll be hearing from him.

I was going to report “John”, the “Gummie since 2019” who sent the first message, but I could see no obvious way at Gumtree on how to report a user. But for what it is, his public profile is here.

Not long after the first email, there was another email from a “Scott Charlton” who:

  • Wanted to know the “present Condition” and could I send him “some pics of it”, even though the pics and condition were in the advertisement.
  • Was “ready to buy it now as i need it urgent.”
  • Because “i’m on Business trip at this moment” can’t come personally.
  • Will “add $70 for shipping fees, i will like you to get it ship via Express, after the payment has been made to your account.”
  • Will “be paying you via via PayPal or bank transfer, just get back to me with your paypal email account or bank details Account number,Account name, BSB number as to process the payment now.”

I asked him where he was. Twenty hours later, there has been no reply.

Seriously, read Gumtree’s sensible safety suggestions and get back to trading without worries about being ripped off. And you can read about some other scams we’ve covered in the past here.

And do remember, while there were many obvious tells in this attempt at a Gumtree scam, over time such crooks are likely to become more sophisticated. They may even learn proper grammar.