Rolling Up A Fraud Case
Scammers claiming to be hay buyers try to do a deal online. A con-artist mails a check to a hay seller. But the check is for more money than the selling price. The scammer then asks the seller to send the extra money to a bogus hay hauler. The scammer's check bounces, and the extra money is sent to the bogus hay hauler is scammed.
"I've seen those suspicious emails; I've also been called, people asking me if I want to purchase hay," said hay producer Jeff O'Laughlin.
This is called an overpayment scam, a tip from one hay farmer. As hay gets scarce, opportunites for scammers get plentiful.
"We want farmers to be very suscipous of any stranger who contacts them offering to buy a large quantity of hay, then especially if that person asks them to send some of that money elsewhere for example via wire transfer," said Travis Ford, a consumer education coordinator.
Scammers will buy all kinds of hay including orchard, alfalfa, oat, and grass hay. The overpayment scam only works online buyer unseen. Sometimes the hay will be hauled away, but in any scam case, money will be taken away.
Since hay farmers are another target of scammers online, there are ways to prevent being a victim of a scammer pretending to be a hay buyer. The Missouri Department of Agriculture says the old method of accepting payment from hay buyers face to face works best.
"When I do ask those people to call me in person and if they don't respond, I do have a high level of suspicion that they were some kind of scammer looking to sell me something that doesn't exist," said O'Laughlin.
O'laughlin also mentioned that hay farmers should have the buyer fill out an animal feed tax exemption form as well as a written reciept. This will also help prevent a scammer from stealing hay and money.