Farm machinery online sales scams escalate with $140,000 in losses

Fake websites pretending to sell farm machinery are increasing in number as the number of victims and their losses also increase.

WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection has now received reports from nine people losing a total of $142,975 after they paid for tractors and other farm machinery that were advertised at greatly discounted prices on fake websites, but the goods never turned up.

Originally, the tractors were purchased from a bogus website “Bora Machinery” and a fake courier company “Australia MD Transport” was used to fool victims into believing that their purchases were being delivered. These websites have now been closed down.

However, other websites have sprung up to take their place:

And another fake transport company “Australia AD Transport” (www.australiaadtransport.com) is now being used with a slight change of name to the original one. These sites are in the process of being shut down by Consumer Protection.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said the fake websites look professional and the prices are extremely attractive.

“Some of the tractors being offered on these fake websites are at least half the normal market price, so I can understand why people are enticed into snatching a bargain,” Ms Chopping said.

“But the losses, both individually and as a total, are very high and more farmers around Australia are being stung as they look for cheap deals to keep their costs down but sadly end up being out of pocket.

“It’s becoming more difficult for fake websites to be recognised, as they often steal the identity and ABNs of legitimate online retailers. But if the prices being offered are too cheap, then you need to do more research before parting with your money.

“All consumers who shop online should deal only with well-known and reputable traders and get recommendations from colleagues, family and friends who have had a successful shopping experience with those traders. A search for warnings or reviews might also indicate if the website is a scam.

“A sure warning sign is if the site asks for a direct bank transfer rather than a credit card payment. Paying by credit card gives you the option of getting a chargeback if the tractor doesn’t arrive, but making direct bank payments usually mean your money is gone.”

In an associated scam, one WA consumer has reported losing $18,000 while attempting to buy a caravan online. A fake website has been identified Seven Stars Caravans (www.sevenstarscaravans.com), which has stolen the name from the legitimate business 7 Stars Caravans, www.7starscaravans.com.

Information and advice on scams is available on the WA ScamNet website where scam reports can be lodged. Enquiries can be made by calling 1300 30 40 54.

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