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Hay Sellers, Beware of Potential Scams

Hay Alert advertisers should be aware of potential scams that have come to the department's attention.

In the most recent examples, a hay buyer contacts the seller by e-mail and offers to send extra funds, either to guarantee a future order or to be sent to a third party to cover transportation costs. The "buyer" may refer to this as an "overdraft payment." The "buyer" then asks the seller to confirm personal information, such as full name, mailing address, and home, office and cell phone numbers.

In some instances, the "buyer" claims to have arranged for shipping. The "buyer" instructs the seller to deduct payment for the hay from the amount sent, and to send the remaining balance to the shipping firm. In other cases, the person asks the seller to arrange shipment and to return any unused money. It is suspected that the payment is fake, and the "buyer's" request to send funds to a third party or return unused money is simply a ploy to steal from the seller.

A similar scam surfaced a few years ago. The way it works is that a potential hay buyer sends the seller a fake cashier's check, made out for several thousand dollars more than the agreed upon selling price. Then the "buyer" claims to have made a mistake and asks the seller to wire the difference back.

The victim deposits the check, the bank credits their account, and the seller assumes the check has cleared. So the seller wires the requested funds, the check bounces, and the bank reduces the seller's account by the wired amount, sometimes cleaning the account out and leaving a negative balance.

Some ways to spot these scams: They usually have multiple misspellings, poor grammar and typically look like form letters. They will typically send a "check" to you and pressure you to deposit it quickly and send a refund. The scams most often originate overseas, but may have an accomplice here in the United States. The people posing as buyers might be male or female.

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