Gumtree is an extensive network of online classifieds and community websites. Classified ads are either free or paid for depending on the product category and the geographical market. Sellers may promote their listing through featured placements on the homepage or under product categories. Gumtree now covers 60 cities across 6 countries - the UK, Ireland, Poland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It is the UK’s largest website for local community classifieds and was once one of the top 20 websites in the UK.
Gumtree was founded in March 2000 by Michael Pennington and Simon Crookall as a local London classified ads and community site, designed to connect people who were either planning to move, or had just arrived in the city, and needed help getting started with accommodation, employment and meeting new people. In May 2005, Gumtree was acquired by Kijiji, eBay’s internal classifieds group, for an undisclosed sum. At the time of the acquisition, Gumtree already was available in multiple cities in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong and Dubai.
- March 2000: Gumtree is founded.
- May 2005: Gumtree is acquired by Kijiji.
- May 2010: Gumtree re-launches with new usability features, including more localised search functions.
- August 2010: Gumtree launches its first television advertising campaign.
Fraud and scam using Gumtree
The Guardian newspaper reported that, flat-hunters fall victim to costly rent deposit scam using Gumtree. A London landlord was ripping off prospective tenants by taking deposits and then charging a fortune to check references.
In April 2008, The Journal reported that “Gumtree scams continue to target international students”, where students continued to be targeted by fraudsters offering to rent nonexistent flats by using this site.
On 2 October 2008, BBC News Investigation claimed, “Prospective tenants are being conned out of thousands of pounds in an elaborate Internet scam using Gumtree.
In 2008, Gumtree was featured on BBC Watchdog for being a medium of money transfer scam. The flat hunters are the victim of this scam. Gumtree claims that it is an “industry-wide problem that affects a small number of their users”.
On 9 November 2009, BBC news warned over bogus landlord scam using Gumtree.
Actionfraud, a service run by the National Fraud Authority UK, issued a warning on 30 July 2010: “Scam targets potential tenants on Gumtree. A number of would-be tenants have lost money after replying to a new wave of bogus adverts for rental accommodation on the website, Gumtree.”
Significant developments in Gumtree’s international expansion beyond the UK include:
- September 2004: Gumtree launches a site in Warsaw, Poland.
- May 2005: Gumtree launches a site in Berlin, Germany.
- June 2005: Gumtree expands into Italy, with sites in Rome and Milan, Italy, increasing its coverage across 31 cities.
- August 2007: Gumtree expands to the US, targeting expat communities in New York, Boston and Chicago. The company intends to pitch its service at the 2 million British, Australian and Polish expatriates in the US.
The Gumtree service is available in English and Polish, and additional languages through its partner websites.