“It appears the scam is widely aimed at hay producers and often involves fraudulent cashier’s checks or money orders,” Strain explained. “The buyer sends the money, usually for more than the asking price of the hay, the farmer deposits the check and sends the additional funds back to the buyer but later finds out the check wasn’t good.”
Strain said other states’ agriculture agencies have received reports from farmers that the scammers are using Market Bulletin ads and classified ad publications to contact the sellers. They most often correspond with the farmers by email and usually refuse phone communication.
Along with additional information about the scams, www.Haybarn.com offers the following as possible warning signs of a scam:
•Offering payment by cashier’s check or money order only.
•Insisting on paying more than the asking price.
•Asking for cash to be sent to a third party, such as the shipper.
•Poor spelling and odd word choices.
•Lack of knowledge or interest in the hay itself.
•Unusual name or email address.
A list of known scammers is also available on the site.
“I would just warn everyone to be cautious and follow your intuition. If something seems too good to be true, as they always say, it probably is,” Strain said. “If you believe you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Department of Agriculture and Forestry for assistance.”
To contact the department, call 225-922-1234 or 1-866-927-2476.