South Africans have become increasingly targeted for online scams. The increased threat in cyber crime has deterred South Africans from fully engaging in trading online as it doesn’t seem like a save space to conduct business because of all the online scams.


Gumtree’s Head of Marketing, Claire Cobbledick explains that online scammers have become more creative and have specifically targeted South Africans in the online market. Cobbledick goes on to explain that:

[Online scammers are] generating fake proof of payments and sending SMS notifications to inform you that funds have been paid into your account to gain release of the items before you realise that no actual funds were transferred.

To help educate South Africans on online safety, Gumtree has put together a list of basic things consumers can do to help avoid online scams and other threats online:

  1. Use the Message Centre on the free Gumtree app which enables you to connect with potential buyers via direct messaging – this also allows Gumtree to track scammers and retrieve their contact details.
  2. If the seller or buyer is pressuring you, be suspicious – insist on doing your due diligence even at the risk of losing the deal.
  3. Never release your banking details to strangers – when paying ensure that you’re using a secure connection with a padlock setting in your browser.
  4. Once a price has been agreed upon, do not release items until money is actually cleared into your account by your bank and not just by text alert.
  5. Gumtree never requires payment as part of any transaction – if any such payment is mentioned then the deal is potentially a scam.

Gumtree is confident that thousands of transactions take safely and securely place on the site every year, but acknowledges that there is always room for improving online safety. In response to the growing threats consumers are facing online in South Africa, Gumtree has partnered with a third-party escrow service, Shepherd which is supported by Standard Bank. Gumtree hopes that this partnership will reduce the growing risk South African consumers are facing online. The mechanism is simple and user-friendly. Once a seller and a buyer have agreed on a price, Shepard will collect the item from the seller, deliver it to the buyer and will then release the money to the seller if everything is in order with the item. 

About Gumtree

Launched in South Africa in 2005, Gumtree has helped millions of people buy, sell and trade goods and services. Gumtree is the most visited and largest classifieds website in South Africa. With local sites for hundreds of cities and towns across the country, Gumtree makes it easy for South Africans to find exactly what they’re looking for in their own community. Gumtree is part of the eBay Classifieds Group, the global leader in online classifieds with a global presence in more than 20 countries and 1,000 cities.