One of the many great things about the farming industry is that transactions have traditionally been carried out on the basis of mutual trust rather than lots of contracts and paperwork. That much hasn’t changed. However, even farming can’t completely escape scams, and that extends to a rise in dodgy machinery-for-sale ads in magazines and on websites.
The huge bulk of ads remain as honest and upfront as they have been in the past – it’s just that you need to be able to spot the odd rogue item.
Top tips on how to spot a potentially dodgy deal
1. If a deal looks too good to be true it probably is. Check other ads to see what a machine of that type and age is fetching elsewhere.
2. Has the ad got a landline number? A landline at least tells you where in the seller is based. Make sure they’re happy to receive calls at any time too so you know they’re not using a public telephone.
3. If there’s a landline number or address, tap it into Google. This will often yield some initial information.
4. Also when you do speak to the seller, ask some technical questions about the intended purchase – if they can’t answer them, smell a rat.
5. Go and see the machine or at least ask if this is a possibility. Difficult if you’re in Dorset and the tractor is in Dumfries, but you’re trusting in fate if you don’t.
6. Most multi-machine ads will show that they are all photographed in the same place. If they all show different backgrounds (or look like they were taken at 7. different seasons of the year) be extra cautious. It’s probably fine, but just as well to check.
7. Be extra careful if buying from a seller’s website, as this is where many scams take place. Make sure you have a telephone conversation with the seller and don’t just rely on email.
8. Above all, don’t send any money until you have seen it and tried it. This may not always possible, so at least be 100% sure that you’re happy to make the transaction.
9. Beware of intermediaries, too. The transaction should be between you and the seller. Neither Farmers Weekly nor FWi offers any security or insurance for buyers or sellers.
10. Beware fake security claims. Online ads will sometimes say things like this: “Ebay will hold your money for five days”, etc. This is fictitious.
11. Be extra wary about buying machines from abroad and transferring money to a foreign bank account. Go and see the machine in the flesh if you can.
12. Beware of intermediaries, too. The transaction should be between you and the seller. Neither Farmers Weekly nor FWi offers any security or insurance for buyers or sellers.
13. Be sceptical about all claims, even if it’s your nature (as it is for most people in farming) to trust people.
If you wish to report advertising activity in Farmers Weekly or on fwi.co.uk that you feel is suspicious please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget to sign up for the Farmers Weekly Crime Register at www.fwi.co.uk/farmcrime