What are the scams I should watch out for?


There are some dodgy people out there, and despite our efforts to keep them from Gumtree and protect you, occasionally a bogus ad or buyer slips through. Read here for some common scams on the net to watch out for.


You've won the lottery!


Fake lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions exploit a dream that many of us have - oh to live the Lotto life! Often these competitions will say that they are held in a different country and that you were automatically entered into the draw or someone entered on your behalf.

Scammers rip you off by getting you to:

  1. Call or text a phone number (often starting with 19) where you are charged for the duration of the call.
  2. Send your bank and other personal details, which they'll then sell to other scammers and expose you to identity theft.
  3. Pay an upfront fee to claim your prize (that doesn't exist)


An overseas relative has left you their fortune!


A scammer, disguised as a lawyer or bank, emails you saying that a long-lost relative has died and left you a huge inheritance. How many of us know our distant relatives? They can be convincing too, with ancestry and genealogy websites making your family tree readily available.

Scammers rip you off by getting you to:

  1. Send personal documents and bank details, which they'll then sell to other scammers or use for identify fraud.
  2. Pay fees and taxes to release the inheritance (that doesn't really exist).


Brand name spoofing / phishing:


You get an email that claims to be from Gumtree, Adevinta, Western Union, or another company and offers buyer protection or an online payment system or perhaps a cash prize. These emails will typically request that you send money or provide personal information. Any emails which combine urgency with some need for personal details should be treated with caution, no matter whom they purport to be from. Gumtree and most other companies will never send out such emails. If you send money via these sites you are likely sending money to the fraudsters.

If you receive an email alleging to be from a company offering a service then go directly to the company's official website and look for details of the service.


  1. Don't respond to emails from people or organisations that you aren't familiar with.
  2. Don't open downloads or follow links in emails. If you know the company, type their home URL into the browser.


Oops, I paid you too much! Cheque overpayment


A buyer or seller or prospective tenant will send you a cheque worth more than the value of the items/ rent and then ask for the surplus money to be returned to them or a third party, for example "to pay for shipping". The cheque will clear into your bank, only to be stopped/refused weeks later. At this point, the Banks/Building Societies will take the full cheque amount back out of your account. Not only will you have lost the goods, you will be out of pocket for the amount of the cheque and the amount you passed on as the difference.


  1. If you receive an overpayment cheque or money order, return it to the sender and ask for the correct amount.
  2. Wait for cheques to clear and cash in money orders before sending your product.


Payment for brokerage/importing


A seller claims that there are brokerage fees, import duties, or other such fees required to get an item into the country. Do not pay such fees, as you will most often never get the product and will have lost any money you paid. Again, Gumtree is designed for local, face to face trading.



Fake escrow sites


A buyer or seller or prospective tenant/ landlord suggests using an escrow service to complete the transaction. Often these escrow web sites are run by fraudsters (even though they may look ""official"") and they will take your money and never send you the product.


  1. Only transact face to face on Gumtree.


Make a fortune, Work from home


Many work from home offers are "pyramid schemes" which require you to recruit other members in order to get paid. For example, an ad may say that you can make 100 an hour by stuffing envelopes. But to make that money, you need to sell the system to others. Other work from home opportunities are fronts for money laundering - key warning sign should be any 'job' that involves you receiving cheques and cashing them. For these reasons we typically don't accept work from home positions on Gumtree.


  1. Legitimate jobs don't ask for upfront joining or membership fees.
  2. Often it's the people you trust, your friends and family, that will be trying to recruit you. They usually don't realise that what they're doing is illegal.


419 Scams


You get an email saying that your help is needed to take money out of a country and that you will be paid a commission for your help. Eventually they will ask you for money to help them take the large amount of money out of the country and once you pay you will never hear from them again.


  1. This is illegal - don't participate.


Pet Shipping Scams


A seller will claim to have a pet and will offer to ship them from an overseas location, or even get you to book seats on a plane! These are usually sought after dog breeds such as English Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas. These ads are usually accompanied by "staged" pictures. The pets don't exist and the fraudsters simply try to get you to pay money upfront. Remember: be wary of overseas sellers.



Abuse / harassment


We don't tolerate harassment or abuse of our Gumtree users and take reports of this nature very seriously. If you have experienced abuse or harassment in connection to either an ad on Gumtree or an email received from a Gumtree user then please report it to us.

If you have received an abusive email you might also want to forward the details of the abusive email to the sender's email account provider (i.e., Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL).



If you have any other security questions that aren't answered above, then please contact us.

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