Gumtree and Stolen Goods

While advertisers may have spun “it’s a steal” into a sales pitch we are all too familiar with, if you’re not careful in the world of private sales that may be exactly what you get.

Gumtree is one of the most well-known classifieds site with its primary purposes allowing people to buy and sell from each other. Whilst this gives tens of thousands of people the freedom to sell unwanted property they’ve gotten over the years, it’s increasingly becoming a quick and easier way for criminals to turn their ill-gotten gains into cash.

Buyer beware

The terms of use of Gumtree, and many sites like it, restrict their legal liability to any sales conducted over their platform including any conduct by a use engaging in illegal conduct. This means if something shady is happening and the law comes knocking, you may be left in a tricky situation.

The Criminal Code makes it illegal to possess any stolen or unlawful property, or to receive stolen property, however there is one key component. The charges around this issue hinge upon your knowledge of where the property came from and how it came into the seller’s possession.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

So what kind of knowledge puts you in peril of criminal charges? There are two standards you can be held to: actual knowledge, and reasonable suspicion.

Reasonable suspicion means that you aren’t certain the items lawfully belong to the seller. Putting this into practice, if you took a step back and looked at all the circumstances and you believe there’s a chance the property is not theirs to sell, you have a reasonable suspicion.

Actual knowledge goes one step further and means that you are aware that the property you’re buying has been stolen or otherwise obtained illegally. This doesn’t necessarily mean you know the actual offence that was committed to get the item in the first place, just that it isn’t lawfully owned by the seller.