Avoiding dodgy ag equipment sales sites

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  • Plant & Equipment

Fake second-hand machinery sites have scammed thousands from unsuspecting buyers – here’s how to make sure you’re not among them

Avoiding dodgy ag equipment sales sites
Credit card and Paypal offer more secure online payment options than bank transfers, WA ScamNet says. Image courtesy Alamy.

Three websites claiming to sell discounted second-hand farm machinery have been reported to the Western Australian government website WA Scamnet, after products were paid for but never delivered.

WA ScamNet, which provides information on scams operating in the state, says consumers have reported losing almost $45,000 to the following sites: www.tqg-farming.com.au; www.coad-machinery.com.au; and
www.boramachinery.com.

All three websites offered discounted tractors and other machinery, using postal addresses that were either those of other legitimate businesses selling similar kinds of goods or empty parcels of land.

They also requested payment via bank transfer only, which WA Scamnet says online shoppers should consider a red flag.

The payment systems of credit card and PayPal provide greater protection under consumer law.

"Bora Machinery referred victims to Australia MD Transport (www.australiamdtransport.com) to arrange for payment and delivery of the goods, claiming the funds would be held until the tractor had been inspected with the promise of a full refund if the customers weren’t satisfied.

"Both websites reference legitimate ABNs (Australian Business Number), which they appear to be using fraudulently. WA Scamnet has alerted the real owners of the ABNs."

WA Scamnet says anyone who has ordered goods from these websites should immediately report the transaction to their bank as fraudulent.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission-run website ScamWatch (www.scamwatch.gov.au) says: "The biggest tip-off that a retail website is a scam is the method of payment. Scammers will often ask you to pay using a money order, preloaded money card, or wire transfer."

Another warning sign is when an online retailer does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details on their website.

WA ScamNet has provided the following tips to help avoid fake websites:

  • beware of sites using insecure payment methods such as a direct bank transfer or wire transfer
  • if an ABN is provided, check the Australian Business Register to confirm that the ABN is actually owned by the company referencing it
  • if making big purchases online, do your research. If a vehicle is interstate, arrange for a locally-based company to do a mechanical inspection of the vehicle before purchasing
  • search online for reviews of the website
  • consider the risks if there is no physical address or contact information. If there is, search for the premises on Google Maps.

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