Word is out among state ag departments across the country about a hay buying scammer is at work. Producers are contacted by a supposed buyer who sends an initial check, in exchange for wiring money to a hay hauler. Then the check bounces, and the producer's money is gone.
This scenario is being worked in Maryland, Missouri and probably other states, says Maryland Ag Secretary Roger Richardson. The alleged buyer may be getting farm contact names from state Web site listings of hay and straw producers.
"Use caution and make good business decisions when dealing with anyone interested in purchasing hay," says Richardson. "Make sure you have some level of confidence in the buyers and their method of payment."
How the ploy is used
Producers selling hay and straw are contacted by someone claiming they're interested in making a purchase. Then the producers receive a substantial check, and are asked to wire transfer funds to a truck hauler who'll supposedly pick up the bales.
This is considered an overpayment scam, where the buyer mails a check to the seller asking the seller to send part of the funds via wire transfer to a hauling company. Days and sometimes weeks later, the original payment fails to clear.