Gumtree computer scam victims speak out

South African should be more aware of online classifieds scams. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
South African should be more aware of online classifieds scams. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Johannesburg - Fin24 users have told their woes of falling victim to scammers who prey on computer sellers on internet classifieds website Gumtree.

Last week, Fin24 reported how Johannesburg-based Suhayl Khan said he was scammed when selling an Acer Aspire Switch 10 device on Gumtree to an ‘Artwell Mckenzie’.

Khan said Mckenzie offered to buy the laptop and provided what looked like legitimate documents such as proof of payment and a copy of an identity document.

However, when Khan handed over the laptop to one of Mckenzie’s workers at Eastgate shopping centre in Johannesburg, the payment for the device never actually materialised.

Fin24 contacted Mckenzie but he didn’t want to comment and instead put the phone down several times.

Khan last week said he reported the matter to police. Khan told Fin24 on Thursday that there was no update yet on police’s investigation into the matter.

Gumtree also responded to Fin24 with advice on how to prevent being scammed.

Read Gumtree’s response here: Warning over Gumtree laptop scammer

In the meantime, other Fin24 users, who have sold electronics devices online have come forward with their tales of woe.

Fin24 user Sbu also told how he was scammed on Gumtree but managed to deflate the alleged scammers’ tyres.

“I also placed an ad on Gumtree that I was selling my laptop and one guy called me saying he urgently needed the laptop for his daughter as it had the correct specs. I gave him my banking details to transfer the money and said he will send someone that day to fetch it in Pretoria. I had a feeling that he was a scammer and when the guy arrived we took his car keys and deflated his tyres and told him to walk back to Sunnyside.”

“The money never cleared in my acc but we taught him a lesson.”

Fin24 user Ronny has told of how he was scammed on Gumtree in a similar way:

“I have advertised numerous expensive electronic devices, such as mobile phones, laptops, desktop computers and large LED TVs. I only use Gumtree, as I am familiar with their format, and am comfortable with browsing around their site. The very first ad I placed, I got scammed in the same manner, as I was a first-time user and did not check with the bank to verify the payment. Since then, I have never been scammed again, but that is not because of a lack of trying from the scammers.”

Fin24 user Raymond said he had two instances of being scammed in a similar way:

“I had advertised on Gumtree also an electronic article and received a telephone call from a person who uses different names. He also requested that we meet in Eastgate and then he called back and said that he could not make it but would send his assistant to pick up the item. I told him that his payment was not yet cleared and I would not be able to meet with the goods until such time as his payment was cleared by my bank. A week later the same person with a different name tried exactly the same scam, this time he sent me proof of payment which was not genuine One should never release any goods until payment has been made and cleared by the bank. They will never pay by cash only by cheque which will always be returned.”  

Fin24 user Jason said he experienced the same kind of scam in Cape Town on Gumtree. And he said he also came across Mckenzie on OLX but refused to sell an iPad to him after having reservations.

“I sold a laptop a couple of years ago on Gumtree in Cape Town. The seller emailed me proof of payment, plus proof of ID and proof of residential address. I also received a text from his bank confirming payment. I didn't want to release the laptop until payment cleared into my account the following day, but he sent a courier to to collect the laptop which put me under pressure to release it. All the documentation was fake, and I lost R3 000.”

Fin24 user Malalo said he also got scammed by Artwell Mckenzie but, this time, on OLX:

“I am one of those who got scammed by this person. I was still at the Witwatersrand in 2013 when I listed a laptop on He sent me the ID document and a proof of payment. He sent a guy in a black cressida to come and fetch it. I realised it later that it was a scam when the payment did not reflect of my bank.”

OLX has previously told Fin24 about how to avoid being scammed online.

READ: How to avoid being scammed online

Fin24 user Johan said he lost a computer and printer in a similar way in Durban.

“Yes I'm Johan from Ladysmith I lost my computer and printer the same way but this was a scammer that call himself Donald in durban and later he phone me for a phone I had for sale and then called himself Ronny.”

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