A MyBroadband reader recently faced a scam involving Gumtree, Taxify, and his iPhone 7 Plus.
It started when he posted his iPhone 7 Plus 256GB on Gumtree, and received five calls to purchase the device on the first day.
“All of them said they do not use WhatsApp. All said they will send an Uber to collect. All offered to send documents,” he said.
Scammers appear to be trawling Gumtree for high-value items, like an iPhone, then try to steal them by offering to purchase the item, and sending forged documents and notifications.
This is done when potential victims agree to accept an EFT.
The scammer knows which bank the victim uses and sends an SMS stating a deposit has been made into their bank account from a different bank.
This is so they have an excuse for why the money hasn’t cleared if checked. They then send an SMS that looks like a deposit notification from the victim’s bank.
In the reader’s case, the scammer said he was sending his “friend” to collect the iPhone after he had made the “payment”.
The “friend” turned out to be a Taxify driver, who had little knowledge of the person he was collecting the phone for.
The reader said after handing his device over, he felt something was wrong, and went to the guard house where he stays and got the driver’s number from the sign-in book.
He called the driver, explained he thought the collection was a scam, and the driver returned – cancelling the trip.
The scammer the driver did the pickup for was a cash customer, who then contacted him and offered R1,500, then R3,000, to complete the delivery. The driver declined.
“These criminals are using Uber and Taxify with cash payment options to get the drivers to do the hard work and collect the items from victims,” said the reader.
Gumtree said fraudulent proof of payment is not new in online marketplaces.
“Although we haven’t seen many cases like this, it seems that Uber or Taxify is another way of making it harder to trace the actual perpetrator,” said Gumtree.
“We urge community members to inform us via our 24/7 contact centre if they encounter a suspicious buyer or seller.”
Gumtree stated that victims or potential victims must also contact the SAPS about any scam incidents.
The company said it will speak to Uber and Taxify to collaborate and combat this activity.
Uber recently introduced new safety features which require cash riders to link a Facebook account to their Uber profile, which it verifies, before using the service.
Called Social Connect, only new sign-ups are currently required to link their Facebook account.
Uber said there is potential for Social Connect to expand to existing users in future.
Taxify did not respond to requests for comment.
One way to avoid falling victim to a scam is to use a third-party escrow service, like Shepherd – which is offered by Gumtree in conjunction with Standard Bank.
The service charges 3.95% of the transaction value, with a minimum charge of R30.
Shepherd also charges separately for its shipping service – starting at R100 for items below 2kg, and R169 for items up to 10kg.
“If you opt not to use Shepherd, always check that funds have cleared before handing over goods,” said Gumtree.