A media release published today by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission notes there has been a recent spike in agricultural sector scams, with Australian farm businesses losing more than $1.2 million between 1 January and 31 August this year.
This is an increase of more than 20 per cent compared to the same period last year, with scams around the sale of tractors and heavy machinery accounting for more than $1 million in losses alone.
Fake websites and false classifieds in legitimate publications have been used, with seemingly good online deals for machinery advertised. The below infographic published by the ACCC demonstrates a common tactic adopted by scammers.
As scams are ever evolving, it is prudent to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism if a deal appears too good to be true. ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh has urged farmers and business owners to conduct extra checks when considering an online machinery purchase.
“Many scams can be revealed by doing an internet search of the exact wording in the ad. Never click on a link provided to you by the seller or pay upfront – even if you are promised the money is refundable. Ask to pay at the time of delivery or pickup.”
“If possible, inspect the machinery in person or via live video first. Scammers will often have an excuse as to why machinery can’t be inspected in person and that is a red flag for any buyer. Scammers may advertise machinery at lower prices than the typical market rate. As always, if it looks too good to be true or if you feel pressured in any way, chances are it’s a scam”.
Mr Keogh also indicated that some scammers may be targeting more than just money, with identity theft also a concern. If you have provided personal information and are concerned that you have been scammed, you are encouraged to contact IDCARE as soon as possible.
Any person that has been scammed, regardless of whether money has been lost, is encouraged to report the event to the ACCC. To read the full ACCC media release for further information, please click here.