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Scams have always been an issue when buying and selling goods and services, and the flexibility to purchase online has only increased these risks. The ACCC has reported that farmers and small rural businesses have increased their purchases of tractors and heavy machinery online, prompting a specific ACCC warning for farmers and small rural businesses following an increase in scams targeting the agricultural sector.

What’s happening?

The scams occurring usually follow a similar process, where:

  • scammers set up a website or profile on online marketing platforms (eg, Trading Post, Facebook Marketplace) selling agricultural machinery at cheap prices;
  • the websites or profiles generally use legitimate business names and/or ABNs;
  • the purchaser sends an enquiry, and the scammer responds quickly, provides a contract for purchase and may offer a trial period with a ‘money back’ guarantee. Appearing to be a legitimate seller;
  • the purchaser pays for the machinery via an online transfer, sometimes requested to be made via a safe third party service, which is actually run by the scammer;
  • the machinery does not arrive by the expected date. The scammer will generally provide a reason such as COVID-19 delays;
  • the scammer eventually ceases contact with the purchaser and no refund is able to be obtained.

Impact on farmers and small rural businesses

The ACCC has reported that Australian farm businesses have lost more than $1.2 million to scammers between 1 January and 31 August 2022. The most common scam has been the targeting of farmers involved in the sale of tractors and heavy machinery, making up to $1million of the total loss this year already.

It is not only financial loss that is being seen. Scammers are also obtaining detailed personal information from farmers and small rural businesses (drivers licence, etc), causing the farmer or small rural business to fall victim to identity theft.

Farmers and small rural businesses need to remember:

  • legitimate sellers will only ever ask for enough information to deliver what has been ordered;
  • never click on a payment link provided by the seller;
  • it is best to pay up-front on delivery or pickup; and
  • don’t provide too much personal information over the phone or online.

Key take-aways

  • If you suspect something unusual, do not rush into the transaction and try obtaining advice or speaking to someone you trust before continuing with the transaction;
  • Where possible only agree to buy heavy machinery after you have inspected it in person; and
  • If the advertised price looks too good to be true or if there is any form of purchase pressure, there is a high chance it is a scam and further advice should be sought before proceeding.

For information or assistance, please contact our experts.

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Farmers being targeted as agricultural sector grows

21 October 2022
eliza sinclair

Scams have always been an issue when buying and selling goods and services, and the flexibility to purchase online has only increased these risks. The ACCC has reported that farmers and small rural businesses have increased their purchases of tractors and heavy machinery online, prompting a specific ACCC warning for farmers and small rural businesses following an increase in scams targeting the agricultural sector.

What’s happening?

The scams occurring usually follow a similar process, where:

  • scammers set up a website or profile on online marketing platforms (eg, Trading Post, Facebook Marketplace) selling agricultural machinery at cheap prices;
  • the websites or profiles generally use legitimate business names and/or ABNs;
  • the purchaser sends an enquiry, and the scammer responds quickly, provides a contract for purchase and may offer a trial period with a ‘money back’ guarantee. Appearing to be a legitimate seller;
  • the purchaser pays for the machinery via an online transfer, sometimes requested to be made via a safe third party service, which is actually run by the scammer;
  • the machinery does not arrive by the expected date. The scammer will generally provide a reason such as COVID-19 delays;
  • the scammer eventually ceases contact with the purchaser and no refund is able to be obtained.

Impact on farmers and small rural businesses

The ACCC has reported that Australian farm businesses have lost more than $1.2 million to scammers between 1 January and 31 August 2022. The most common scam has been the targeting of farmers involved in the sale of tractors and heavy machinery, making up to $1million of the total loss this year already.

It is not only financial loss that is being seen. Scammers are also obtaining detailed personal information from farmers and small rural businesses (drivers licence, etc), causing the farmer or small rural business to fall victim to identity theft.

Farmers and small rural businesses need to remember:

  • legitimate sellers will only ever ask for enough information to deliver what has been ordered;
  • never click on a payment link provided by the seller;
  • it is best to pay up-front on delivery or pickup; and
  • don’t provide too much personal information over the phone or online.

Key take-aways

  • If you suspect something unusual, do not rush into the transaction and try obtaining advice or speaking to someone you trust before continuing with the transaction;
  • Where possible only agree to buy heavy machinery after you have inspected it in person; and
  • If the advertised price looks too good to be true or if there is any form of purchase pressure, there is a high chance it is a scam and further advice should be sought before proceeding.

For information or assistance, please contact our experts.