The RCMP is warning rural residents and farmers to be on the lookout for potential online scams involving the selling of hay.
Police say fraudsters are taking advantage of the high demand for hay and are placing low-cost listings on buying and selling platforms like Facebook Marketplace. Authorities say the ads are demanding payment up-front, and before the potential buyer can research the producer, see the product, or receive the delivery.
Authorities say ads like that may cause farmers and agricultural workers to make purchases without taking time to properly verify or research production sources simply because of the need for the product. The Grande Prairie RCMP received at least one report this summer, with the victim sending a sizeable quantity of money through an e-transfer, but no hay was delivered, and the funds were lost.
Police say throughout the year, they’ve been able to determine at least $64,000 has been lost to this particular scam. Authorities say there are ways, however, those in the agriculture industry can protect themselves from becoming entangled in a fraudulent sale.
They say typically, sellers will only communicate through text messaging and avoid phone conversations. Prices on ads will be noticeably lower than any others you may come across and will remain in line with prices before the shortage. Police say quite often, it will it could end up being a 50 per cent deposit, and once the money is transferred, excuses about delays begin, until communication ceases entirely.