The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) is warning online sellers of a scam that involves Gumtree, PayPal, Western Union and the City of London Police.
In one report received by the NFIB through Action Fraud, a woman was almost defrauded after advertising her bed for sale on Gumtree.
The woman was initially contacted via text message by a “potential buyer” who requested further information about the bed in an email. After agreeing to purchase the bed, the scammer asked to pay for it using PayPal. The scammer also made up a story about working offshore and as a result required the item to be sent using a shipping company.
The fraudster then sent the woman a scam email purporting to be from PayPal stating that payment for the bed and £100 shipping costs were pending in her account.
The scam email advised the woman to pay the shipping fee via Western Union and once the bed was sent the rest of the money would be released.
After not responding the woman received further emails threatening legal action if she did not pay. The scammers claimed that PayPal were working in conjunction with the NFIB and the City of London Police.
Gumtree’s advice for selling safely
- Keep things local by meeting face to face with the buyer to exchange items and money at the same time. Never send items upfront in advance of receiving payment. If you are using a secure payment method, please check that the credit amount is showing as cleared funds on your balance.
- For your personal safety, meet in a ‘lighted’ public place and always take someone with you, or at least tell a friend where you’re going.
- Use your common sense. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you are a victim of fraud you can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool and receive a police crime reference number.