Scam warning after farmer buys tractor from 'fake account'

Farmers have been warned of the heightened threat of fraudulent online scams
Farmers have been warned of the heightened threat of fraudulent online scams

Calls have been made to ensure vigilance when buying machinery online after an Orkney farmer was scammed using eBay.

The farmer transferred payment for a tractor to what is thought to be a fake account, and now the seller is now uncontactable, according to NFU Scotland.

The union said the incident served as a 'sad reminder' to farmers and crofters of the need to be vigilant when undertaking online purchases.

Orkney Regional Chairman Alan Corrigall said: “It is always upsetting to hear about scams hitting the farming community, especially when it is within our own region.

“The reality is that those looking to scam and defraud are ever present and this incident must help serve as a reminder to all of the potential pitfalls when purchasing online.”

Kirkwall Police Station said the force received a report involving a fraud where tractors were being advertised for sale online and payment requested to be made through a fake PayPal account.

"We would always urge people to be vigilant and to do their due diligence when buying online, particularly if purchasing expensive equipment," Chief Inspector Matt Webb said.

"Fraudsters go to great lengths to make themselves appear legitimate so it is important to take your time to ensure you are buying from a genuine seller."

Farmers were recently warned to remain particularly vigilant to fraudulent scams and other criminal activity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

NFU Cymru said that given the current government restrictions, buyers were increasingly looking online to purchase expensive farm equipment.

It issued advice for businesses to consider before committing to online purchases, such as sticking to trusted brands and websites.

Farmers were encouraged to avoid purchasing goods online over public Wi-Fi, and to use a secure payment method with an extra layer of password protection.

When shopping online, NFU Cymru added that farmers should check for the browser 'padlock'.

If the website uses a ‘https’ web address and carries a security padlock in the browser, it means that any data entered is encrypted, making it harder for others to intercept.