Avoiding Online Equipment Buying Scams

Agriculture isn’t immune to fraud, scams and other forms of criminal activity. Farmers and ranchers are urged to be extremely cautious of online scams. In today’s digital day and age, it’s critical to protect your personal and financial information and stay aware of potential risks that may cause you or your business harm.

What to Watch For

Identify theft, counterfeit checks and fake dealers are some of the common ways fraud is occurring in the ag equipment industry today.

A scammer posing as a buyer and using stolen information

• Verify the purchaser and ensure you know who you’re doing business with.
• Do the logistics or location of the deal pencil out?

Counterfeit checks

With increased financial controls across the lending industry, this potential threat is becoming less of an issue.

Fake dealer websites

Do phone calls go unanswered or are they forwarded to a voicemail?

Protection and Prevention

The promise of low prices or the sale of a rare piece of equipment are two triggers that are often used to target buyers in fraudulent schemes. Both scenarios can cause buyers to fall victim to bait and/or switch tactics:

  • Bait: A too good to be true ‘for sale’ price can mislead the purchaser to think they are getting a good deal and will be rushed to close the transaction. In reality, there is nothing tangible for sale – just a phony transaction.


  • Switch: A legitimate transaction is about to occur, and suddenly, the wiring instructions change. The bad actor has compromised one of the buyer’s email accounts and is waiting for an opportunity to interject new wiring instructions at the last minute.


Steps to Protect You and Your Business Against Online Equipment Scams

Identify theft, counterfeit checks and fake dealers are some of the common ways fraud is occurring in the ag equipment industry today.

Ask Questions

  • Are you comfortable and confident in the buyer or seller?
  • Have you worked with the buyer or seller before?
  • Have you worked with the buyer or seller in person? Or have you only interacted with them online?



  • Google the seller by name and keep an eye out for any reports of recent scams in your search results.
  • Reference the Better Business Bureau or your Secretary of State website to verify it is a recognized business entity.
  • Pull up the address of the seller on Google Earth, or better yet visit the seller in person to confirm a brick-and-mortar location exists.

Consult with Others

  • Read online comments from other buyers or reach out to other known buyers who have made a purchase with the seller before.
  • Leverage the knowledge and relationships of your nearest AgDirect territory manager to determine whether the equipment is coming from a reputable seller.

Other Resources

Remember, before you trust a sale, verify the buyer or seller is legitimate. It’s your equipment and your credit, so don’t be afraid to say no if you have a bad feeling about the deal.

Additional tips and resources for avoiding and reporting cyber scams and other fraudulent activity:

Learn about AgDirect’s high security standards and the countermeasures used to ensure that all personal and financial data remain confidential.

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