The Kentucky Department of Agriculture, or KDA, is warning that state’s farmers to be on the lookout for scammers who are targeting folks who buy or sell hay.
In the press release warning of the scam, Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles explained that his office had received what he characterized as “several reports” of people trying to run the scam already this year. “Farmers should take extra care to protect themselves from scam artists when buying or selling commodities such as hay or livestock,” said Quarles in the release, “especially when contacted through email, social media, or text message.”
Typically, as is so often the case with such fraudsters, the scammer will contact a farmer through text message, email or a social networking website. He (or she) will be reticent to speak on the phone and may become evasive when the farmer tries to arrange to have the hay transported.
But the charlatan will be more than willing to offer the farmer a too-good-to-be-true price, on the condition that the scammer is allowed to mail in a check. The farmer is supposed to cash the check and send some of the extra cash back to the buyer.
In some cases, the scammers are setting up very convincing websites and/or social media pages to pose as legitimate businesses, adds Kim Field, who is the administrator of the Department’s Forage Testing Program.
Some scammers are even posing as charities.
Protecting Yourself From A Hay Scam
Field encourages anyone buying or selling hay to protect themselves by selling only with a contract. And that contract should specify a few things like:
- Who, exactly, is buying and selling
- Complete contact information
- Documentation of hay quality
- Whether the hay is being sold by weight or units
- Exactly how and when payment is expected
- How to get a refund or replacement of defective hay
The Department did not say how many farmers had been targeted in this way. Last year, 5.5 million tons of hay, worth $675 million was produced in Kentucky.