Hay scam strikes again

By Jennifer Dorsett

Farmers and ranchers are urged to be cautious of scams, especially hay scams during this time of year.

A recent scam regarding a hay sale in Gillespie County was reported.

The buyer attempted to use an overpayment method to scam a rancher under the guise of a hay sale.

In situations like this, scammers will send a check for more than the amount of hay, alleging the overage will be used to cover costs associated with shipping the hay. But the check is likely from a fake account. Once the excess amount is wired, it is lost. At that point, the depositor is responsible for any funds withdrawn from the check.

Officials urge farmers and ranchers to be cautious of the scams and to follow up with the financial institutions to ensure out-of-town or out-of-state checks are legitimate.

If you suspect fraud in a transaction, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. Scammers usually switch these fraudulent accounts quite frequently, so any delay in reporting or investigation may lead to a dead end.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says scams come in different guises, but the premises are usually the same. Overpaying for an item—equipment, hay, feed and others—is not a common practice.

Reports can also be made to the BBB at www.BBB.org.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) urges people to be suspicious of overpayments and offers the following tips to help be aware of scams:

Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met

Don’t click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails

Don’t believe everything you see

Don’t buy online unless the transaction is secure

Be extremely cautious when dealing with anyone you’ve met online

Never share personally identifiable information

Don’t be pressured to act immediately

Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods and services

Whenever possible, work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing and insurance

Be cautious about what you share on social media and consider only connecting with people you already know

The BBB offers a scam tracker to allow people to investigate illegal schemes or fraud.

The Texas Department of Agriculture offers a hay hotline for Texans looking to buy or sell hay.

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