OTTAWA — Police are warning about fraudulent farm equipment and heavy machinery listings posted for sale online in the U.S. The OPP has received recent reports of buyers losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to these scammers, who often list equipment as being below market value or a “good deal.”
The ads are fake, and the fraudsters actually have nothing to sell. They use images and information copied from other websites. Once a price is agreed upon and shipping details are discussed, they request wire-transfer payment to an American financial institution. When the victim sends the money, communication ceases and no equipment is delivered.
Police advise online equipment shoppers to thoroughly investigate sellers before dealing with them. Physically examine the listed equipment in person or have a professional do it on your behalf. Don’t be pressured by a seller’s sense of urgency, and remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it is.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, so-called merchandise fraud — involving fake online ads for goods or services — cost Canadian victims over $21.1 million in 2021. But that’s just one category of fraud.
In 2022, Canadians lost a total of $531 million to all kinds of fraud, with just under $2.9 million recovered. So far in 2023, total fraud losses stand at $283.5 million.