Fine-Tuning Risk Models Using ThreatMetrix Intelligence Increased Fraud Detection Rate for Online Marketplace by 84%


Gumtree was founded in the year 2000 as a classified ads site for travelers arriving in London.
From these modest beginnings, is now the UK’s number one classifieds site, with
16.4 million unique visitors and 12.6 million replies to adverts each month.*

Gumtree attracts a hugely diverse range of listings from flat-sharers looking to fill a vacant room,
to cars, clothes and vintage furniture sales to name but a few. The classified site also attracts an
equally varied, but highly mobile user base with around half of users accessing Gumtree via a
mobile device, predominantly via the dedicated app.

The ongoing aim of the brand is to connect people in a safe, trustworthy and profitable way, for
the mutual benefit of buyers and sellers. Gumtree regularly showcases a plethora of success
stories on its blog.

With ThreatMetrix, Gumtree can safeguard this vision by:

  • Better identifying high-risk behavior, before genuine customers are affected
  • Gaining access to a global repository of crowdsourced intelligence from the ThreatMetrix
    Digital Identity Network to more accurately isolate and block potentially high-risk behavior
  • Continually optimizing the risk model to reduce false positives and friction for good users

Business Problem

Gumtree brings together an eclectic collection of like-minded buyers, sellers and other users.
The platform does not process any payments transactions and therefore solely relies on the
safety, trustworthiness and authenticity of users.

Fraudsters, however have seen a clear opportunity to exploit the platform; they sign up for
accounts in order to make fake listings, or dupe unsuspecting users into transferring money for a
much-wanted item that never materializes.

Gumtree was looking for a solution that could maintain the integrity of the platform for the
enjoyment and success of good users, while keeping the fraudsters out.

Fraudsters by definition can be masters of trickery, meaning we need to look beyond simply what device is connecting to our website and understand where the user is located… Is this a high-risk area for us? Has this user been associated with unusual behavior in the past? ThreatMetrix helps give us this 360-degree view of risk.


* Visits data source: comScore, yearly average: dates June 2016 – May 2017. Replies data
source: Gumtree Data Warehouse, yearly average: dates May 2016 – April 2017
** Based on ThreatMetrix optimization window March 1st – July 31st 2017

The Power of Digital Identity Intelligence to Detect High-risk Events in Real Time

Gumtree harnessed intelligence from the ThreatMetrix Digital Identity Network to better identify high-risk users before they opened a Gumtree account. The ThreatMetrix Digital Identity Network crowdsources intelligence from millions of daily consumer interactions including logins, payments, and new account applications across thousands of global businesses.

Using this information, ThreatMetrix creates a unique digital identity for each user by analyzing the myriad connections between devices, locations, and anonymized personal information. Behavior that deviates from this trusted digital identity can be accurately identified in real time,
alerting Gumtree to new users who may be using stolen identity data, obfuscating their location or attempting to sign up for multiple accounts from the same device.

Gumtree is now looking to extend the ThreatMetrix solution to cover logins. This will give Gumtree a clearer view of trusted user behavior throughout the customer journey, making it easier to spot anomalous or high-risk behavior in real time. Gumtree will therefore be able to more effectively detect and block fraudsters attempting to take over good user accounts for nefarious purposes.

The ThreatMetrix team has been really proactive in helping us improve our rules for detecting fraud, so much so that we have seen a significant increase in the fraud detection rate since we worked together to improve the performance of the model.


Key Features of the ThreatMetrix / Gumtree Partnership:

  • ThreatMetrix Smart ID identifies returning users that wipe cookies, use private browsing, and change other parameters to bypass traditional device fingerprinting tools. SmartID improves returning user detection and reduces false positives. Derived from the analysis of many browsers, plug-in, and TCP/IP connection attributes, SmartID generates a confidence score that detects multiple fraudulent account registrations from the same device.
  • Deep connection analysis technologies give Gumtree a clearer view of suspicious events. Fraudsters attempting to open a new account from an unusual or high-risk location may attempt to hide behind location and identity cloaking services such as hidden proxies, VPNs and the TOR browser. With Proxy piercing technology, ThreatMetrix examines TCP / IP packet header information to expose both the Proxy IP address and True IP address.
  • ThreatMetrix ID helps businesses go beyond simple device identification by connecting the dots between the myriad pieces of information a user creates as they transact online and looking at the relationships between these pieces of information at a global level and across channels/touchpoints. ThreatMetrix ID comprises a unique digital identifier, a confidence score and a visualization graph for each connecting user, which together act as a benchmark for the trustworthiness of current and future transactions.

We are dedicated to ensuring that users have a safe and profitable experience with Gumtree. Our commitment to user trust and safety is significantly bolstered by the intelligence we tap into from ThreatMetrix


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