Widespread drought, rising prices, and feed shortages in the Great Plains and West have created a fertile field for cattle feed scammers to take advantage of ranchers working to protect their livestock and their bottom line.
In Montana, authorities are warning ranchers to treat with suspicion ads offering cattle feed at below-market prices. Ranchers report that shady dealers promising grain hay, barley straw, and wheat straw at low prices are collecting hefty advance payments, but never deliver. People have reported losses as high as $120,000, the state Office of Consumer Protection says.
Investigators warn that bogus ads from feed scammers may show up in agricultural publications, on radio, and on social media. Dishonest sellers also may create professional-looking websites and videos to convince you that they’re legitimate.
To help protect yourself from losses:
- Check out a seller before you buy. Search online for the company’s name plus words like “review,” “scam,” or “complaint.”
- Consider how you’re asked to pay. Don’t deal with a seller who requires payment by wire transfer, cryptocurrency, or gift card. That’s sure to be a scam.
- Go slow. Avoid high-pressure sales pitches that require you to “lock in” prices by paying for all or part of your order before getting delivery, particularly if you don’t know the seller.
- Talk with someone you trust. Before you pay, tell someone — a friend, family member, or neighbor — about the deal. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.
- Contact your state’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency office. Learn about USDA programs to help ranchers and farmers affected by drought and other natural disasters.
- Contact your state Department of Agriculture. Many states have hay support programs.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
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Unbelievable. Wondering what the spammer profile looks like. What happened to COD? What happened to pasture fed cattle. What happened to FTC trying to purchase feed and trapping the criminals?