Saskatchewan RCMP and Livestock Services Saskatchewan are advising producers of an increase in hay purchasing fraud.
The joint statement revealed that several producers across the province have recently been victims of social media fraud and scams while attempting to purchase hay.
Several producers, many of which are hard-pressed to find good quality hay, have lost money to these scams without receiving hay in exchange. Adds for hay and livestock feed on social media and other buy and sell platforms have been posted by fraudsters who have requested payment immediately, prior to delivery.
"This year's drought conditions are varied, but they are extremely widespread. That has created the need to either move cattle to available feed or purchasing some feed. The drought-related volume of trades is significantly higher than on an average year," said Garth Woods, manager of operations at Livestock Services Saskatchewan.
Woods shared that the level of trades and quantity of producers needing to purchase hay this year is similar to what took place in the 1980s. He emphasized that the issue now lies in that producers are buying hay online and on social media.
Deals tended to be slower moving and personal, he told Moose Jaw Today. Internet-based sales now allow people to sell things very quickly, which can be beneficial in times of crisis, where feed is needed immediately. Internet-based sales can also give fraudsters an opportunity to prey on the nature of the situation. With many producers looking for feed for the coming year, Woods encourages producers to treat the situation of purchasing feed like any other large purchase.
"The main thing is to do your due diligence. In an online world, it is easier to make a poorly researched deal. Do not fall prey to the pressure of paying for something you have not seen, no matter what the seller tells you. Cash upon delivery is still the best tried and true method of a satisfactory payment for both parties on large purchases," said Woods.
Any time hay is purchased in larger volumes, or from a greater distance, there is always a greater risk. Although it may take additional time, the Crime Watch Network shares that it is essential to see the product before purchase. The RCMP recommends refraining from sending funds until delivery to ensure you receive both the legitimate advertised quality and agreed-upon quantity.
"Information sharing is one of the best deterrents to keep people acting morally," added Woods.
The RCMP requests that if you have been the victim of a scam, or notice suspicious advertisements, to alert your local police detachment immediately.