'He sent through a fake bank payment notification' - beware Gumtree scammers
A Cape Town woman was recently scammed after posting her brand new laptop for sale on Gumtree.
Mia from Kraaifontein says a man wanted to buy the device urgently and told her to remove her advert from the popular resale site.
He said that he would send “one of his IT guys” to fetch the laptop, who later turned out to be an Uber driver.
The fraudster sent a fake SMS from his bank, confirming payment and Mia handed her laptop to the Uber driver.
He wanted me to take the ad down immediately and he wanted to transfer the money to me via EFT, which I was first skeptical about.Mia, Kraaifontein resident
He sent me screenshots of him about to transfer the money into my account, but he never sent me a screenshot of him confirming the payment.Mia, Kraaifontein resident
He wanted me to be with the driver, with the laptop as he confirmed the money and put it into my account. I just went with it... He sent through a fake FNB [payment notification] message.Mia, Kraaifontein resident
After some challenges, Mia has opened a case of fraud with the police, but consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says cases like hers are hard to crack without identifying information.
Claire Cobbledick, General Manager for Gumtree SA, warns that consumers always need to stay alert for scammers.
It's not the first time that we've heard of this fake proof of payment.Claire Cobbledick, General Manager - Gumtree South Africa
The modus operandi of these fraudsters is creating urgency... Don't be bullied into rushing along.Claire Cobbledick, General Manager - Gumtree South Africa
Here are some tips from Gumtree on what to watch out for:
- Potential buyers who ask you to delete your ad or communicate only via Whatsapp.
- Potential buyers who claim to work offshore.
- Anyone who does not want to meet in person
- Anyone hounding you constantly or 'overcommunicating' about
While the country grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, Cobbledick adds that consumers need to be mindful of taking safety precautions when arranging a face-to-face meeting.
She says consumers need to think ahead and prepare for the exchange accordingly.
Always wear a mask. Carry a packet or envelope if you're accepting cash and follow the necessary waiting time to ensure that the money is decontaminated, Cobbledick explains.
If you're going to follow the EFT route, make sure that the money has actually cleared.Claire Cobbledick, General Manager - Gumtree South Africa
There are many cases of Gumtree users being scammed – from selling laptops to buyers who don’t pay, to paying deposits for pets that never arrive.
Knowler and Cobbledick both reiterate the importance of vigilance to avoid falling prey to these scams.
Gumtree, OLX, and the others do fulfill a great role, but you have to know what you're doing.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
Listen to the discussion on ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler:
Every Wednesday, on Lunch with Pippa Hudson, Wendy Knowler provides useful insights and tips on how to make the most of your buying power.
For more stories visit the ConsumerTalk feature page.
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