Hundreds conned in Gumtree scam

Police are on the hunt for an online scammer who may have preyed upon more than 300 people in the past year.

Victoria Police is investigating the extensive series of scams which have been conducted on the online buying and selling website Gumtree since June of 2012.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the victims of the con were members of the public based throughout Victoria and across Australia.

The scam involves a man contacting people who have posted 'wanted' advertisements on the Gumtree website.

The man claims to have the item the victim is searching for.

A price and terms are negotiated and the offender forwards personal banking details.

The man then asks where the buyer lives and claims to live nearby, but is reportedly unable to drop the goods off in person because of interstate work.

But once the victim has transferred money to the man's account the offender severs all contact.

Information from the victims has led investigators to believe the scam may have been committed more than 300 times.

The scams so far have involved the attempted purchase of goods including mobile phones, iPads, electronic tablets and gift cards from stores including Coles, Myer and JB Hifi.

The offender has also been known to provide documents such as a passport, driver's licence and card details in order to alleviate any buyer concerns.

The man's banking details are most commonly for ANZ, Westpac, St George or Bendigo banks.

Investigators would like to hear from anyone in Victoria who has been the victim of a similar fraud.

Police are warning people to ensure they undertake thorough research before making payment.

The police spokeswoman said reports of online scams could be made to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Anyone with information about similar incidents can also contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.

The story Hundreds conned in Gumtree scam first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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