Scammers luring Gumtree customers posing as people with disabilities
PUBLISHED: 14:08 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:35 10 July 2019
Fraudsters have launched an online assault on Norfolk Gumtree users attempting to sell second-hand goods on the web.
People selling items through the online marketplace have been targeted by scammers posing as potential customers with disabilities - they later send fake PayPal emails requesting funds to have the items delivered.
Several Gumtree users in Norfolk have confirmed to this newspaper they have been "inundated" with very similar scams with one saying: "I had the same thing several times on a single item."
Emily Hewett, from Norwich, has sold several items through Gumtree and says she received scam emails every time she posted.
Ms Hewett said: "I had my suspicions from the start but my mum told me I was being paranoid. I couldn't understand why a normal person would part with hundreds of pounds on something they hadn't even seen, but when the person said they were in a wheelchair I felt bad for thinking the worst.
"I'd like to think I'm pretty internet savvy and I can't believe I even bothered to reply to that first email. I'm sure somebody more trusting could be fooled by the sob story."
The hackers begin the scam by saying they want to purchase the item but are unable to collect it in person as they are either disabled or not in the country.
They then say they will transfer the seller a higher sum to cover delivery costs, so that the seller can pay a courier.
Later the seller will receive a fake PayPal email giving the courier's supposed bank details with a message that the payment for the item will not be released to the seller until the courier has been paid.
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Ms Hewett added that she twigged something was wrong when the supposed PayPal email landed in her junk folder.
"I had handed over my address when discussing collection and when the penny dropped and I realised it was a hoax - I was initially worried they might come to my home and burgle me," she added.
A spokeswoman for Gumtree said: "We take fraud very seriously and are totally committed to tackling scams and educating people about how to avoid them. We list prominent safety advice for buyers and sellers, as well as our dedicated advice page on how to spot a scam on our website and we encourage anyone who thinks they may have come across a scam to report it to us immediately.
"If you have any doubts about a potential transaction, walk away and seek our advice before deciding to go through with the sale. Our dedicated safety team can investigate and take action such as blocking the offender from the site. We are constantly working closely with the police and other authorities to ensure all our users have as safe an experience as possible."