- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 20 July 2013
Are you a genuine Gumtree seller and have received an email from Christopher at Bicycles Network Australia? This email was sent by a Gumtree scammer who is upset that their fraudulent activity was spotted by a member of the Australian Cycling Forums.
Today, numerous sellers of cycling gear on Gumtree have been contacted by the scammer with a message using the reply function, supposedly from me. Obviously I have not contacted any Gumtree sellers and have no interest, connection, or issue with their Gumtree classified ads.
Here is an example of the illegitimate email that genuine sellers have been receiving.
Subject: A reply to your ad “AD DESCRIPTION REMOVED”
From: [email protected]
Someone has replied to your ad!
A Gumtree user has an inquiry about your classified ad ‘mens crane mountain bike’ (Reference: 1024040432).
Please be advised, we can not tolerate this, what you are selling makes it harder for me and my mates to sell. Don’t bother to make your ad better than ours, take it down, or I will create more test accounts in my forum to ask members to report you, it’s your choice, we believe in choices. Copies of your photos and text are now saved in my website to be used freely by my forum members.
I saw the same thing elsewhere at a lower price, this is a ripoff.
Alternatively, you may downgrade your ad’s presentation to settle with us. We would be happy to assist you to make the changes. Please do not hesitate to contact me.
Bicycle Network Australia
To reply to this message please use the Reply Button of your email client
If you do receive one of these emails, please forward it to me. I have started to receive a large number of emails from angry and confused sellers and have reported this to Gumtree, plus I have also recorded all of the emails of the scammer to report to the Police.
Here is an example of one reply from a genuine seller who was targeted:
As far as I no I don’t need your permission to sell a bike on gumtree! We believe the price we have put on it is fair and negotiable. We own a retail store in Tasmania and I am sure my customers wouldn’t appreciate me bullying them as i dont appreciate being threatened and bullied by you!
Who is the Scammer?
The scammer is a person in Sydney who purchases cheap K-Mart bikes, removes the stickers, and then takes nice photos and misrepresents the bikes, claiming that it was a gift or is no longer required. A bike purchased for $150, as an example, is then sold for $350.
Here is a google cache example of one of their Gumtree ads for a fraudulent bike sale
There are a few big problems with this:
1. Ethically selling a low quality bike for far more than it is worth
2. Providing misleading, incorrect and fraudulent information
3. Supermarket bikes don’t have a great reputation for quality. Add to this a scammer who has assembled this, and there is a potential safety problem.
You could argue “Buyer Beware”, however on Bicycles Network Australia it doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an expert – we understand that people have different levels of cycling abilities and bicycle knowledge. It is my personal interest, and the general interest of members within the forums, to help others protect themselves from cycling related fraud and scams.
Why is the scammer doing this?
In the cycling forums, a member spotted a bike being sold that looked identical to a Kmart bike, though at a much higher price and reported it as dubious. Subsequently other members spotted similar instances and the seller’s writting style was similar. The scammer signed up to the forum and was initially allowed to participate since they pretended they were independent and from an international forum. I argued that it is better to resolve this behind the scenes, though “she” (it could be a “she”, they identify as Jenny, or Jennay, or ausbike) persisted and the forum thread became popular: 2nd hand K-mart bike for 133% more than new
The wild and incoherent comments from Jenny were hilarious, though this person never confirmed their association with the fraudulent Gumtree seller, however, at some stage they said that the service provided was assembly.
The scammer is upset and within the forums has obviously not found support for their misleading Gumtree sales, in fact the opposite. Their latest move is now using the Gumtree reply function to pick genuine sellers of cycling gear and send a fake message with the intention to defame myself and Bicycles Network Australia. The Gumtree email reply to the sellers is sent using various email addresses connected to me.
What can be done?
I have reported this to Gumtree and also have an email and IP addresses for the person. If you have any further information, please email this to me: [email protected] . If you do receive such a message, I’m sorry that you are getting caught up in this mess – please report to Gumtree that the poster is an imposter and also provide details to me.
To follow the progress, there is a forum announcement: Gumtree Seller – Fraudulently representing BNA
p.s. I have never sold anything on Gumtree and have only ever purchased 2 things from the classified site: an old iPhone, and some Foo Fighters tickets; both were from legitimate sellers.