Victims have lost about $64,000 in sales scams
By Diego Flammini
Alberta’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police are encouraging people purchasing hay to be aware of potential scammers.
The summer Prairie drought has caused a hay shortage, and scammers have taken advantage of vulnerable people and communities.
“Across various RCMP jurisdictions this year, various groups have scammed victims out of approximately $64,000,” the RCMP said in an Oct. 14 release. “With many cases potentially not being reported, this figure could be higher.”
Most of the scams have happened with online sales.
The sellers place listings on buy-and-sell platforms or Facebook Marketplace and ask for an immediate payment before the buyer can receive the hay.
In some cases, buyers have transferred as much as $5,000 to a seller, didn’t receive hay and lost contact with the seller.
People who avoided the scams took necessary measures, the RCMP said.
They “refused to give deposits in advance, insisted upon speaking on the phone, and had paid cash upon delivery of goods,” the release says.
When purchasing hay online, some red flags may present themselves to indicate a potential fraudulent sale.
They include sellers only wanting to communicate through text messaging, requesting a 50 per cent deposit and pricing the products low and consistent with last year’s pricing.
Alberta’s farming community isn’t the only one to experience hay scams this year.
In August, the Saskatchewan RCMP and Livestock Services Saskatchewan issued warnings after receiving multiple complaints from livestock producers who tried to purchase hay.
Any producer interested in purchasing hay can visit the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s Hay West program.
Farms.com has contacted farm groups for tips on how producers can avoid being victims of fraud.