COLUMBIA, S.C.–Area farmers should be aware of potential scams from out-of-state buyers targeting hay and other commodities. Kentucky and Texas have had problems with hay scammers, and a few South Carolina farmers have had complaints about potential hay purchases.
Producers should take extra care to protect themselves from scam artists when buying or selling commodities such as hay or livestock, especially when contacted through email, social media, or text message.
Typically a potential buyer texts the seller requesting hay. After they agree on an amount and price, the buyer sends a check for more than that amount, saying the additional money is for shipping. The buyer asks that the difference be wired back to him, but then the buyer’s check bounces.
Warning signs of a possible scam may include:
- The buyer refuses to speak by telephone
- The buyer proposes to mail the seller a check in excess of the negotiated price
- The buyer is vague about transportation arrangements.
States that have a Hay Hotline seem prone to these calls. Farmers should also check charitable requests to donate hay or supplies, making sure the organization is legitimate.
Anyone who suspects a scam should contact local law enforcement and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission here. Scroll down to “Scams and Ripoffs” and follow the instructions.
–South Carolina Deptartment of Agriculture
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