What to do with suspicious online ads?

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bychosis
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What to do with suspicious online ads?

Postby bychosis » Sun Sep 16, 2018 7:56 am

There is a local gumtree user, seems to have two accounts that is regularly selling mid range bikes, like 2-3 at a time different bikes each week. The prices often seem a little high, but the bikes appear to be cleaned,maintained etc so could be a legit flipper. However, being an all to regular gumtree browser, fail to see these bikes before hand and the number would indicate that the seller hasn’t owned them legitimately. They are also not the sort of high end bikes that owners would spend hours online tracking down. I’d hate to think it is so easy to sell on stolen bikes.

Anything that can be done?
bychosis (bahy-koh-sis): A mental disorder of delusions indicating impaired contact with a reality of no bicycles.

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10speedsemiracer
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Re: What to do with suspicious online ads?

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:17 am

Other than cross-checking the stuff he sells with the last month or so on Stolen Bikes Australia or anything similar, I don't know.

We've got one of those in outer Melb as well, but with a huge variation in what he sells from entry level garbage to a very occasional high-end bike. Always has 5-6 listed. Oddly enough, he also has two eBay seller accounts.
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K2
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Re: What to do with suspicious online ads?

Postby K2 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:47 am

Big leap from not knowing where someone is getting things they're selling to suspecting they're a thief [I've got no idea where most shops get their stock :) ]. Worth remembering that Gumtree, despite your vigilance, is not the only place to acquire used gear legally. So, other than being unaware of where they get 'em, what is so suspicious about it that warrants your concern?

And equating legitimacy of ownership with having ridden the bikes themselves seems a bit of a stretch too. Does a bike become legitimately yours once it's been your daily ride for a week? a month? a year? or does it just require purchasing it?

There's several in the Brisbane area who do the same thing. Sometimes a bike that was rather nicely priced elsewhere last week reappears looking a little more attractive at an increased price with them, but they obviously get most from other sources....perhaps the dump, garage sales, roadside collection, other auction/sale venues [both online and not], facebook groups, 2nd hand shops, etc. I just figure they have some bike maintenance skills and are using them to make some extra cash with a little bit of effort and an additional small outlay [ie a quick clean, fix punctures, perhaps change cables/tape, and ensure it's changing/stopping smoothly]. Folks do similar with guitars all the time [I have occasionally, though I've usually enjoyed them through at least one set of strings first].

There'd likely be less in it for them if everyone had those basic skills and/or could be bothered using them since everyone would be looking for diamonds in the rough rather than something with no work required. But there's obviously enough folk looking for the latter to make it worth their effort.

And selling bikes in the reasonable range makes sense if you'd rather spread your expenditure across several items rather than tying up your investment in an expensive bike which might limit your market and sit for a while [ie not putting all your eggs in one basket].

Also, using a couple of accounts allows them to list a few on each without looking so obviously like a semi/professional seller to the casual observer. And for the same reason, I guess it makes sense to sell in a place other than where you acquired them, if you can.

No doubt there are all kinds of dodginess about wherever there's a dollar to be made. But for mine there's enough things to worry about rather than looking for them where whatever evidence there is seems so slim. Or to put it another way, sans something startlingly amiss, perhaps the razor [Occam's] might fall on the seller just being a seller.

Think about it - even in a capital city, if you were regularly nicking dozens of bikes a month and listing them locally on one of the most obvious places to dispose of same, with photos and contact details, you're not likely to have a lengthy career [or injury free life perhaps] in a near universally connected population with that sort of crime, are you?

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AUbicycles
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Re: What to do with suspicious online ads?

Postby AUbicycles » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:28 am

For a bike that is really suspected as being stolen:
- Screenshot the entire Pages
- Report the advertiser to the website admins
- Report to the Police
- Let the rightful owner know - (if relevant).


For bikes that are being 'flipped' and sold at higher prices than they should via Gumtree, it is not illegal, just unethical and rotten. As passionate cyclists, many of us just don't like seeing new bike buyers being ripped off so this doesn't sit very well. But it is usually not illegal - rather it is deceptive and misleading because it prays on the lack of knowledge of buyers.

What can be done? In the past on these forums we have dealt with this... and even had one of these sellers troll BNA and the members when they were called out. I think that calling out such sellers is fair and it shouldn't be abusive or rude, rather simply stating facts - for example that a bike being promoted is overprice and available new or for better specs at a better price.

If it is really edgy, then they can be reported to the classified such as Gumtree as they generally don't like it when people are abusing their platform and creating unhappy customers. But you also want to take care that you are not going after a clueless seller who has a much bigger dream... rather you can see that they are shameless sellers with a record of overpricing and misleading buyers. But reporting them is a soft tactic to simply pass-the-buck to the classifieds and eventually they will take notice if it becomes a problem.

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bychosis
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Re: What to do with suspicious online ads?

Postby bychosis » Wed Oct 10, 2018 4:51 pm

Understand all the points about the seller actually being legit, and they could well be. However it just seems odd that someone would be able to obtain 3-5 bikes at a time with an almost weekly stock turnover.

Knowing how easy it is to steal bikes it just got me wondering if perhaps the seller is selling them on for someone in another city less than legitimately, and if this were the case how would you go about reporting said activity.
bychosis (bahy-koh-sis): A mental disorder of delusions indicating impaired contact with a reality of no bicycles.

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K2
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Re: What to do with suspicious online ads?

Postby K2 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:20 pm

Just underneath the photo on each gumtree listing there is a "Report Ad" link [at least that's where it is at the moment...they'll probably move it again when they make yet another of their constant cosmetic tweaks :roll: ].

Gumtree tend to be rather ineffective in addressing concerns though. I've reported pretty obvious dodginess and listings that break their own posting rules before without any result. Also notified them of problems with their site with mixed results. Usually get a standard proforma response to those suggesting that it's probably at my end [standard IT Crowd "have you tried turning it off and on again" kinda thing]. A few things have been attended to in a week or so, others not at all....probably working on an ease of remedy system rather than one that considers importance.

Since they seem quite lax about things, I suspect you'll need to be able to offer them something quite substantial to get them to act on listings. Just annoying them with hunches may result in even less attention being paid to definite dodginess in future [see the boy who cried mongoose...sorry, closest my mind could get :) ]. And taking it up with any higher authority would definitely require some rather substantial evidence...you've seen through this forum how hard it is to get them to move, even if it is handed to them on a plate.

I was thinking about your initial post again during a ride the other day. The listings that tend to pique my cautionary reflexes are most likely to be from sellers who have only recently set up an account, are only selling a single item, and tend to have poor descriptions and photos. Those that list multiple items regularly, and have done so for some time, are more likely to fall into that category I mentioned earlier. Also considered transporting goods across country. I guess if stock requires zero outlay it would be economically feasible, but again, selling in such an obvious venue seems awfully risky. I know it's one of the first places I'd be keeping an eye on if I ever lose another bike. Also, if all the crime shows I watch are anything to go by, the sort of people who tend to nick things seem to be quite keen to convert them to cash [or other erm, "goods" if they have a regular buyer]. If anyone in that line of business were going to be listing hot items so publicly, I suspect they'd be trying to offload as quickly as possible and therefore unlikely to be trying their luck at over the odds prices.

On Chris's flipping front - I'm vaguely aware of the ruckus at least one of the dodgy gumtree seller's that came to BNA's attention caused. By all means, go after sellers that are obviously misleading. But overpricing alone is unlikely to be anything gumtree, ebay, or elsewhere are going to worry about. Their sites are chock full of listings asking ridiculous prices for all manner of things[1]. It's the nature of the beast I guess...many sellers tend to think their stuff is worth a small fortune whereas most buyers tend to be quite reluctant about handing over their hard earned. And there's the rub - buyers are expected to attend to their own budgetary requirements. You can try and hold their hands all you like if you have the time, but the type of folk who buy on impulse without much consideration will continue to do so despite your efforts, and that being the case, people will always be willing to try and exploit it. Good on you for trying but I think you might be attempting to push fresh poo up a 20% gradient with a cable end.

Or to look at it another way - it's pretty much how a free market works, isn't it? Folk generally try to sell for what they think they can get away with and buyers are free to look elsewhere if they don't like it. If there's a gap [or perhaps even if there isn't] some middleman will eventually fill it and try to claim their slice of the pie. Sometimes, and I suspect that this might occur with both the guitar and bike trades in some instances, manufacturers work with middlemen [otherwise known as importers] to screw every last cent out of your local shop and therefore the end user. Under other systems you might be entitled to one bike that looks exactly like everyone elses. That might solve the theft and overreachingaskingprices problems, but how many folk here would be willing to hand in all their lovely bikes to do so? :)

Apologies for another long one. I have to think of something whilst turning the pedals.


[1]eBay often makes determining a going rate for popular items much easier since they allow you to see recent sales. Try picking a few items to see what they've gone for and then look at the wide range of current asking prices for same. The whole system might work a little better if both sides did a modicum of research....buyers would be less likely to pay over the odds and that would force sellers to be more reasonable if they really wished to sell. Then again, if it's still happening on an almost universally accessible buying/selling site with that feature, then perhaps saving everyone from themselves is a goal that's unlikely to be achieved? :?

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