Farmers have been scammed out of thousands of dollars by fake websites posing as agriculture machinery businesses.
- Scamwatch has received more than 30 reports of farm machinery related scams totalling $335,000
- Fake websites mirror legitimate businesses, with ABNs and phone numbers listed
- Police warn against buying farm machinery without physically inspecting it first
So far this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received more than 30 reports with over $335,000 in losses to farm machinery scams.
Detective Senior Constable Ben Manning, of Victoria Police’s Crime Investigation Unit, said farmers needed to be vigilant when looking for machinery online.
“There’s been a few fake websites where they’ve made enquiries to purchase the machinery and unfortunately that machinery doesn’t exist,” he said.
He said the average case was between $10,000 to $20,000.
‘We’re limited in what we’re able to do’
“You feel shocking for these people who have lost this much money but unfortunately the money seems to make its way overseas and we’re limited in what we’re able to do quickly enough,” Senior Constable Manning said.
He said it would be easy to be conned, as the fake websites mirror legitimate businesses, including listing ABNs and phone numbers.
“The websites are presented fairly professionally — there are online inquiry forms with a whole lot of different machinery advertised,” he said.
“When the victim makes the inquiry they’re then contacted by someone claiming to be a representative of that company, and then they arrange to have money deposited on the promise that the machinery will be delivered.”
Once the payment is made, all contact ceases.
Senior Constable Manning said there were a range of different websites, but police were able to shut them down fairly quickly once alerted.
Senior Constable Manning suggested farmers buy local to avoid being scammed.
“If you can’t arrange to see the item you’re paying for then don’t put more of a deposit on than you’re willing to lose.”
The ACCC advises reporting suspected fraudulent activity to Scamwatch or contacting local police.