ID and Privacy Risks when Selling on Line

I advertised a video camera on Gumtree and within a short time I got a message from someone interested in buying it. He/she asked me to contact them using an email address which I did.

We negotiated the final price and the potential buyer told me it was to be a gift for a person in the US and was going to add $100 to the price for postage. They said I should soon receive an email from PayPal to say that the money had been paid. I checked the PayPal site and there was nothing there.

I contacted the buyer who said to check for the PayPal email in my Spam folder - and yes there were two of them there. I use PayPal a lot and I have never had one of their emails end up in the Spam folder.

One of the emails explained that the funds have been withheld for security reasons - PayPal do not do that. Checking the email address it was obvious that this email was fake.

I reported the buyer to Gumtree.

I want to bring this scam to the attention of the community as it was quite convincing. These people are getting clever.

One thing I should mention is that Gmail gave a really good warning about this being a fake email and they were right.


The offer reflects a classic scam, sending to a foreign location with extra postage offered.

Well done to pick it up as you have.


Gumtree does warn about people asking for email contact because of scams. The lesson here is just dont do it.

I wont deal with anyone on gumtree who wants me to post, if its not face to face, no deal. There are absolutely NO protections on gumtree even if you use paypal.


I use Gumtree frequently . Another scam to watch out for is when after messaging and receiving messages through the Gumtree site , never use your email , the buyer asks you to meet him/her at the nearest railway station to finalise the deal .

I have heard of sellers turning up at the railway station and being robbed of the article . Often the seller is injured due to being physically assaulted by the parties involved .

Pays to be vigilant on Gumtree .


I find that after a while you get a sense of the person you are dealing with. If I am to meet someone, it will always be somewhere of my choosing (I am prepared to travel for some things) and it will be in an area which is fairly busy. I have a preference for the coffee shop at my local shopping centre. Its busy enough so if someone tried to rip you off, they would be noticed, and its not so busy they could get lost in a crowd. Also, the centre is in suburbia, with quite a distance to car park and roads. It would not be easy to make an escape there. Also means I dont have to deal with potentially dodgy characters at my home, which is something that bothers the heck out of me. Of course, large objects must be picked up from there… you takes yer chances, as they say.


Only time I was ever asked to have such a meeting - the seller was 40km away, and suggested we meet half way, in a perfectly respectable restaurant in a well patronised shopping centre.
And Gummie also warns you - ALWAYS deal in person - NEVER over the internet, like the scammer colmadden is talking about at the start of this post.


Gumtree should always be a face to face contact if possible. Scammers are everywhere these days.


I advertised my Trek road bike on Gumtree. Within a few hours of the ad appearing I had two separate inquiries, the first stated he was too busy to come and look at the bike. He would pay via PayPal and send his ‘agent’ to collect it.
The second one claimed to be a marine engineer at sea with no internet access (except he could access PayPal) and that he would send his ‘agent’ to collect the bike.
I was immediately suspicious and checked the ACCC’s ‘Scamwatch’ site, where I learned that there is a PayPal scam.
It goes like this - the buyer pays you and you send the item. However, the funds are slow too clear. The buyer then claims that the item was never received. Bingo; you have lost your item and you have no money to show for it.
I asked both buyers for an address. Buyer 1 immediately disappeared and buyer 2 told me I don’t need an address, as his agent will collect. I replied to buyer 2 ands told him I believed he was a scammer. Buyer 2 then disappeared.
I reported it to Scamwatch.


Looks like it must be Gumtree specific/only internet access that the marine engineer has.

Also make sure users are reported to Gumtree…


another variation on the scam is where the scammer advertises a really desirable thing at an unbelievable price. Then, when you contact them, they say something like "Unfortunately, we have moved to (random far away town) but we have a preferred shipping service. If you pay blah blah … (you can see how this goes).

I have received threatening invoices from the imaginary shipping company in response to these ones. I usually string them along a bit just to waste their time as much as possible.


As a regular user of Gumtree I find it is fraught with scammers. I used to report them explaining to Gumtree that I am fully aware that it is a scam and that I have taken the correct precautions. I am in no way exposed however I am reporting it in the hope that you can act on these people so they do not continue to send this rubbish. I ask that seeing I have taken the trouble to report could they let me know what action they have taken. They just send a stereotype reply. I no longer report them on the basis that I have no idea what they do about it (if anything) and that they must be fully aware of all the different scams on their web page because they are numerous.
It appears to me that if you list something that has an expensive price on it you will get a scam hit within a few hours. So logic would follow that if the scammers have the ability to target us then Gumtree should also have the same ability to target them.


Something also to be aware about Gumtrees when selling cars…make sure that your number plate is covered or illegible (use a masking feature of a photo editor).

A good mate said that his sister was recently called by the police as a car with her rego plates had been caught going through a number of speed cameras, on toll roads and also red light cameras. The police said that the rego plates in the photo looked suspicious and suspect that they were colour copies of the plates on her car. After doing some background checks on her, the recent behaviour seemed unusual and why they called to confirm whether it was her car.

They also asked if she was trying to sell her car online…which she replied yes.

The police asked if she has disguised the number plates, to which she answered no.

The police suggested that she remove the posted photos and not to place a photo of her car clearly showing the rego plates when it was being sold. They also suggested not to advise anyone interested in the car of its rego plates unless she knew or confirm they were genuine buyers.

The police indicated that due to the roll out of number plate recognition technologies, thieves are now stealing cars, checking online for a car of the same models and colour showing number plates (usually on selling websites) and then making a copy to stick onto the stolen car. This allows them to use the stolen car without being picked up by the recognition cameras…effectively to try and evade the law.

This is something I didn’t know but will make sure I do (that is disguise any rego plates) in the future should I sell a car online.


How would a seller know or confirm that? I take your point that you can at least place a hurdle in front of a would-be crook by not publishing the plates on a web site to all and sundry.

A buyer would want to know all the relevant info in order to do a REVS check. If I rang up, as an interested buyer, and the seller declined to provide the info needed to do a REVS check then I would think that the seller is dodgy!

{Partly answering my own question … if you are selling a car and a would-be purchaser wants to do a REVS check, give out the VIN but not the rego. ??}

For common vehicles, a car thief could gather up the data needed for the database just by sitting close to a busy road with an automatic camera e.g. dashcam, or similar. This may even be available publicly as a public webcam. So car selling web sites are only one possible source.


That would be the easiest option…only give the VIN out to a cold caller. Searches can be done using the VIN…VIN can be used for such searches.

The only downside is being a larger alpha-numeral, more likely to make a mistake in transcibing or communicating.


In Qld at least, you can search a registration by either the registration number or the VIN, and the result will display both the registration number and the VIN.

So a search using the VIN will provide the registration number free of charge.


This may be a smart way of doing it…as one can then check that the rego matches the VIN…if they don’t, then it could raise alarm bells.


Having recently sold a car on car, it is requested that the licence plates be visible in at least one of the photos.


Whilst paying our car rego renewal at our local Qld Transport office this week. there was an excessively tatooed young male at the next counter trying to register a vehicle he claimed to have bought that had obviously quickly raised red flags.

He was asked what the rego number was or if it had plates affixed but claimed there weren’t any.

He was asked for the purchase details and he claimed that he had bought it on Gumtree.

The employee asked the person serving me who said it was not going to happen.

Definetely seemed very dodgy.


Maybe not or they have recently changed requirements. This is the photo requirements webpage…

It states…‘For your privacy, we may blur out your registration plate in your public photos. This is automatic and does not need to be done by you.’.

This indicates that number plates don’t need to be visible in the photos. I would rather do it myself (hide number plates), than rely on an automatic blurring function…hoping this function is adequate to hide the plate details.


Mmmm, I can see where you found this info but I seem to recall that in the step-by-step process for putting your ad on line, when uploading photos, there are suggested angles, (as in the Help Page). I’m sure it was suggested? to have the rego showing. I can’t actually go to the page without creating an ad but I stand corrected if I misread this. I certainly did not see anything about blurring the plates which I would have noticed. cheers.:slightly_smiling_face: