TDA warning against hay sales scam
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) would like to warn Texans about a scam being run against individuals who have hay for sale. TDA has received alerts from Johnson and Karnes counties about scammers contacting hay sellers. The supposed hay buyer will send the seller a check in excess of the amount the hay is being sold for and then ask the seller to wire the extra money somewhere else. The scammers explain the overpayment by saying they need to cover taxes or shipping costs; however, then the check bounces and the scammer already has the money wired to them. The hay seller is then left to pay the money back to the bank. TDA recommends always reaching out to your local law enforcement agency if something seems fishy about a transaction or purchase. In addition, you may use TDA’s Hay Hotline to locate hay sellers and buyers in your area by visiting TDA’s website here.
The April TSCRA Special Ranger Tips column in The Cattleman covered avoiding being ripped off my thieves using cashier checks. These tips can also be used to avoid being scammed by personal checks. Below is an abbreviated list of tips from that article. If you would like to read the entire article online, click here to download a PDF or visit our online Resources page in the TSCRA Member Center.
- Know your buyer. The best way to avoid a scam is to refuse to accept cashier’s checks from strangers. However, as online transactions have become more commonplace, it may not be possible to know your buyer.
- Trust your gut. Does something feel a bit off about the transaction? Have they insisted on making changes to the agreement or have a litany of excuses or extenuating circumstances? It may be better to rely on a more dependable method of payment or arrange with the buyer for you to hold the product until the paying bank has cleared the funds. If the buyer can’t or won’t do this, it could be because it’s a scam.
- Use common sense. Is the buyer in a rush? Are they knowledgeable about what they’re buying? Do they want to forego other methods of secure payment?
- Give the check a critical eye. Does it look fake? Are there misspellings? Is the paper poor quality or missing security features like watermarks?
- Don’t accept a check written for an amount over the purchase price. Scammers will sometimes offer a check over the purchase price and then request the seller to send them the overage via wire transfer or Western Union after the check has been deposited.
- Know the difference between funds being available for withdrawal from your account (usually this can happen quickly, within a business day or so) and the paying bank clearing the funds. It could take a cashier’s check days or weeks to clear the paying bank.