If you see an advertisement for livestock that sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t. True, that is.
The Rural Crime Prevention Team has warned farmers to be cautious of scammers pretending to sell livestock online through social media and other marketplace platforms.
There have been recent incidents where livestock that don’t exist have been advertised online fraudulently.
Here are some tips to avoid being scammed:
• If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t. You should inspect the livestock in person before buying to ensure the animals are as described in the ad.
• Know who you’re dealing with. If you’ve only ever met someone online or are unsure of their business, take some time to do a bit more research. It is better to use online sites that you know and trust.
• Never send money to anyone you don’t know. While online transactions can be simple and convenient, remember that face to face transactions are the best way to minimise the risk of fraudulent activity.
Scamwatch is a good place to check what scams are operating.
Reports to Scamwatch show Australian farm businesses lost more than $1.2 million to scammers between January 1–August 31 this year, an increase of more than 20% compared to the same time last year.
One of the common scams targeting farmers involves the sale of tractors and heavy machinery, with losses to this scam topping $1 million so far this year.
Scammers trick people through a range of methods such as providing a contract of sale, answering questions about the potential sale of machinery by phone or email, or offering a free trial period once money is deposited into a secure escrow account, which is actually part of the scam.
Independently verifying the existence of a business by searching the address of the business and calling a nearby business is an important step in ensuring the seller is who they say they are.
Farmers are also being warned against giving too much personal information as scammers are targeting more than just money.
To report a fraud, contact local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.