North Carolina farmers have felt the impacts from hurricanes and other big weather events in recent months.
The NC Department of Agriculture says there's a need for hay in areas of the state, and unfortunately, that means scammers are trying to take advantage of farmers.
One North Carolina farmer was able to spot red flags before being scammed out of money.
The Dept. of Agriculture says the farmer was contacted by a prospective hay buyer in Kansas. The buyer provided no contact information beyond an email address. The seller received a check from the buyer. Before the seller shipped the hay, the seller tried to cash the check at the bank - it turned out to be fake.
State officials says this kind of scam has been around for years. It works like this - the potential buyer sends the seller a fake cashier's check, made out to 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 or write a check to refund the over-payment.
Here are some red flags for this type of scam:
- Check for misspellings and poor grammar in emails.
- No contact information besides and email address.
- The scammer typically pressures the seller to deposit the check quickly and send the refund or forward payment to a third party.
The NCDA&CS says farmers can use its 'Hay Alert' site to be put in touch with legit hay buyers and sellers. The site lists names, addresses, and other important information such as transportation needs with suppliers.