Over the years, although heard of, I have never fallen victim to a Gumtree scam although I have had several conversations with one. Recently I sold my home and I need to go into rented accommodation for 3 months, until my new house is available. With 3 weeks before the big move, I placed a little advert on Gumtree to see if anyone had any short-term lets available. Amazingly on waking the next morning, I had received several text messages from different people.
One of messages I received was from a guy called James. I sent him my email address for him to send me the information on his property.
The following email reply was very formal but at this stage, I didn’t really suspect anything suspicious. I did query some of the content in my reply as it looked as if I was to be sharing the property with someone else.
I sent him my name and telephone number for the tenancy agreement. I started to get suspicious when he said his solicitor would have it ready on Sunday! Here is the 1st page from the tenancy agreement.
Alarm bells started ringing when I discovered the so-called solicitor had entered the wrong address on the tenancy agreement. Furthermore when James asked for a holding deposit before even viewing the property! When I questioned this he mentioned that he’d had trouble with people coming to view the property in the past. Here is the PDF with the full dialogue that we exchanged.
This was quite a sophisticated scam which thankfully I didn’t fall victim to. Luckily I found traced the IP address back to Nigeria but even this method is not full proof. I continued to extract more information from him and also reported all the details to Action Fraud which is on a list of helpful UK scam resources.
Similar Characteristics & Discrepancies
2 of the people that responded to my advert had similar Gmail addresses (croline.park002, jamyescmbell001). I replied to both of the following but only got a response back from one, this could mean that they were the same person.
James implied that he was going to have to travel down to Aberdeen to show me around the property. I know not all people are good at Geography but Aberdeen, Scotland is North of Coventry, England!
If it’s too good to be true then it’s generally a scam. Never pay a holding deposit to view a property. If they live miles away it is their problem and not yours. Luckily for me, I live locally so I was able to see if the property existed and it didn’t. Report them so they don’t con anyone else. Don’t let the fact that its a UK mobile number fool you either, you can get a UK number from anywhere in the world!