Tractor and Heavy Machinery Advertising Scams on the Rise
Farmers are amongst the latest victims in machinery ad scams that have cost individuals as much as $45,000. According to data released this week by NT Consumer Affairs, collectively, these heavy machinery scams have cost people across Australia in excess of $380,000.
SAN FRANCISCO, September 15, 2020
These are high-ticket items, such as tractors, motorbikes, campervans, and heavy machinery, that are often being sought out by smaller farming operations. Due to the average value of these transactions, not only does it give the scammers an appealing incentive, but the impact on the individual being scammed is monumental.
The new scams are working.
Farm machinery prices are so good they attract buyers. And they focus on selling expensive heavy machinery and tractors that do not exist. The misuse of legitimate information and images from other websites make it difficult for genuine buyers to detect a scam. Even though buyers do their own checks, they have not been in-depth enough. One buyer even questioned a request to make payment to a bank account in England. They verified the address using the internet, and transferred the funds using Western Union. After paying the money, they checked deeper and found the address was a vacant lot.
The newspaper carrying the ad verified the person advertising was different from the person selling the tractor. The scammer had used the details of a legitimate business, so they would appear valid. Anyone caught in these scams have little hope of getting their money returned, and this is due to the fact these scam sites request the purchase price be directly deposited into a bank account.
Tactics Scammer Use
In the past, spotting a scam artist at work was a lot more obvious than in the present day. The tactics and technology being used are a lot more sophisticated, and even those buyers who take cautions and make additional checks have been caught short by modern-day scammers.
Western Australia Scamnet and NT Consumer Affairs have listed over 20 such websites that are already known to them. These are highly professional, legitimate-looking websites that are impersonating genuine organizations. To make them look even more professional, they use business license numbers from registered businesses. Scammers basically assume the identity of real companies and use their advertisements on second-hand trading platforms. In fact, they simply copy someone else’s business information and leave the contact details the same on the contact page. But change the phone number and drop the price to make the machinery more appealing to buyers.
Although these sites have now been taken offline, it is expected that new sites under new names will surface as quickly as the old ones were taken down.
The scammers have even gone so far as to provide fake tracking information that gives people a reference they can use to see an online tracker of the goods making their journey to the premises. Of course, nothing ever arrives.
And it has hit buyers hard.
How to Avoid Online Scams
Scammers follow agricultural seasons, and they create scams selling the exact type of machinery people need during those times. As we’ve already discussed, they’re advertising on reputable online trading websites too. While it’s difficult to spot a scam, there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself and ensure the legitimacy of a transaction.
Before you commit to buy any type of heavy machinery or tractors online, follow these checks as the bare minimum:
- Confirm the company and website you are doing business with is legitimate. This is extremely important when you have not dealt with the company before.
- If something seems too good to be true, then it usually is.
- Be careful of sellers requesting payment using unsecure payment methods, such as wire or bank to bank transfers. If there is no option to pay via a credit card or PayPal, this should ring alarm bells. With these payment methods, you get certain protections from fraud. Another payment option you’ll want to discuss with the buyer is Escrow.com. We’ll discuss the benefits of using escrow to pay for large transactions online in the next section.
- Arrange for a third-party to inspect the machinery when making an expensive purchase in another state. Organize a local company to complete a mechanical inspection and give you a report before you agree to buy it.
- Where the website supplies a business license number or ABN, check the number actually belongs to the company selling the machinery.
- Do an online search for reviews of the company.
- Where there is no physical address provided, consider the risks. Where there is an address, use Google Maps to find it.
Had the individuals who have been subjected to these scams used Escrow.com to handle their transaction, they would have avoided these very costly, uncomfortable situations.
The Benefits of Escrow.com
Escrow.com is a trusted third-party that allows you to complete financial transactions. It protects Sellers and Buyers when making remote sales.
Using escrow gives the Buyer a smooth, easy online transaction with a fully-licensed escrow service. We ensure the Buyer receives their tractor or heavy machinery as described. The funds are securely held in trust until the transfer is complete. This minimizes risk and protects the Buyer from fraud. Escrow.com allows the Buyer to inspect the merchandise before authorizing the release of funds to the Seller.
The benefits of using escrow to buy a tractor or machinery online includes:
- A simple sales process
- Reducing the risks of buying from an unknown remote source
- A low-cost solution that is cheaper than other payment methods
- Protecting both parties while shipping the goods
- All shipments are tracked to ensure the Seller ships, and the Buyer receives the merchandise
Escrow.com's Five-Step Process
Use Escrow.com to make safe payments online. This protects both Buyers and Sellers using a simple five-step process:
- Agree on payment terms. The Seller and Buyer join Escrow.com. Once both parties agree to the terms of the sale, either party can initiate the transaction.
- Buyer deposits payment. The Buyer deposits payment using an approved method into a secure escrow account. The terms of sale are also recorded as a formal agreement. Escrow.com verifies the payment is legitimate and notifies the Seller when payment is in escrow.
- Seller sends the machinery. The Seller sends the machinery to the Buyer and adds tracking information to the account. Escrow.com verifies the receipt by the Buyer.
- The Buyer accepts the machinery. The Buyer accepts delivery and has a set number of days to accept or reject the shipment. This gives them the opportunity to inspect the machinery as it is as sold by the Buyer.
- Seller receives payment. When the Buyer accepts the shipment, they authorize Escrow.com to release payment to the Seller.