Farmers warned of large equipment online auction scams

Farmers shopping online for large equipment are being warned about fake auction scams.

Jon Tofte is president of I-35 Auctions based in north Iowa and says the first red flag is a price too good to be true.

“Big ticket items that are popular items that are easy to sell, and they’re putting deals out there that are exceptional. For example, if they have a buy it now price, it’s very low.”

He tells Brownfield the scammers are using commonly available software to build fake auction websites and using pictures from legitimate sites to fool buyers.

Tofte encourages farmers to stick to reputable and well-known auctioneers.

“The one that I encountered personally, they had a reason or an excuse why you couldn’t go look at the equipment. So the seller should have an opportunity for you to be able to go look at the equipment. If they have some excuse or reason why you can’t go look at the equipment, that is a red flag also.”

He says a farmer in western Iowa recently wired $100,000 to buy a tractor from a fake auction, and a farmer in South Dakota lost $80,000 earlier this year during a similar scam.

Tofte says if someone suspects an auction is fraudulent, they should contact their state auctioneer association as well as law enforcement.

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