TWO online scammers are behind bars after each rorting Gumtree customers of more than $30,000.
Ashley John Ernst and Mitchell Cox pleaded guilty in the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court to dozens of fraud offences involving the advertisement of bogus items for sale on the popular online trading post.
While the two met for the first time in the Hervey Bay watch house, startling similarities in their offending prompted Hervey Bay Magistrate Graeme Tatnell to warn that using Gumtree to rip off customers was "just a recipe for getting caught".
ERNST, whose details appear on several scam watch sites, was previously convicted of seven counts of fraud in 2004, received a suspended jail term in 2002, and served actual time for further offences in 2006.
In 2009, he was fined for scamming more than $500 from an unsuspecting elderly man to whom he had agreed to sell a car.
His most recent charges related to 16 dodgy transactions on Gumtree where he advertised computers and phones, organised for the funds to be transferred into his account and failed to deliver.
On one occasion he sold an Avis rental car to a man who traded in his own Land Rover, paid $20,650 as the balance and soon found himself with $5480 in unpaid rental fees.
Ernst's lawyer said he had previously had a problem with gambling which had since been replaced with a drug habit but that he was taking part in Narcotics Anonymous at the jail.
Cox, who had a lengthy criminal history in NSW, was said to have offended not for his own benefit but to fund presents for his partner and child.
The court heard he was working as a local personal trainer when he was arrested for ripping off customers who thought they were buying car parts and body kits.
Magistrate Graeme Tatnell told Cox "to get into your brain that to improve yourself, you don't take people's money".
He said online fraud "just doesn't work".
"This offence is very prevalent in the community but I don't know why," Mr Tatnell said.
"It's just a recipe for getting caught."
Ernst was jailed for a total of 21 months and will be eligible for parole in November.
Cox was jailed for 18 months and will be eligible for parole in August.