SCAMNET has contacted Farm Weekly this week wanting to alert farmers to online scammers pretending to sell farm machinery.
So far the online sites have lifted $140,000 from the pockets of nine victims and ScamNet spokesman Alan Hynd is keen to nip it in the bud before any escalation.
"We've already been able to close down two sites but four sites are still active and although we've started the process of requesting the domain sever in the United States to close them, it is taking time," he said.
According to Alan most scams involved used tractors promoted by websites Bora Machinery and a fake courier company Australia MD Transport.
"These web sites have been closed down but four others are still operating," he said.
"They are Geiger Tractors (www.geigertractors.com), ABM Farming (www.abmfarming.com), AP Agriculture (www.apagricultures.com) and Shine Machinery (www.shine-machinery.com).
The fake websites look professional and the prices are at least half the normal market price.
The Geiger Tractors website features a new tractor overlayed with: "Our team is updating our tractors and machinery inventory and will be back soon with new products".
ABM Farming, says it is located in Moree, New South Wales and "is home to the latest farm machinery from the best brands in the industry"
It lists a showroom in the Karratha Industrial Estate in WA but Google Maps shows the address is a vacant block.
AP Agriculture says it specialises in selling used tractors, excavators, loaders, combine harvesters, telescopic handlers, backhoes, drum rollers, "and much more".
"Our staff (it shows pictures of four people) are accredited by John Deere, Zetor, New Holland and Caterpillar and regularly attend courses run by these manufacturers," the website spiel said.
"Clients are welcome at the farm, although it is always best to phone first."
Shine Machinery lists a Maddington address which is the driveway of a reputable company.
Torque spoke with one of the victims this week, cattle producer Gary Elks, Donnybrook.
He and his wife Verna lost $19,475 when he 'bought' a New Holland 75 kiloWatt (100 horsepower) tractor described as low hours, cab, four-in-one bucket and located in the Northern Territory.
"They told me it was a repossession and in near-new condition," Gary said.
"I'm highly embarrassed and very upset because in hindsight it was the classic, 'too good to be true'.
"But I want to tell my story to alert other farmers to these scammers.
"I was told they (Bora Machinery) would use a shipping company called Australia MD Transport and we made a bank transfer to that company and was provided a tracking number that was able to be tracked through the website."
The tractor was to be delivered on March 19 but Gary hasn't seen it.
"The tracking showed it went to Broome for three days, then to Meekatharra for two days then stopped at Reedy, which I found out is an abandoned town," Gary said.
"I kept getting changes to the date when it would arrive and they blamed COVID-19 for the delay.
"I asked for a full refund but I got no reply to emails and the phone was never answered."
According to Alan, another fake transport company, Australia AD Transport (www.australiaadtransport.com) is now being used with a slight change of name to the original one.
"These sites are in the process of being shut down by Consumer Protection," he said.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said the fake websites looked professional and the prices were extremely attractive.
"It's becoming more difficult for fake websites to be recognised, as they often steal the identity and ABNs of legitimate online retailers," she said.
"But if the prices being offered are too cheap, then you need to do more research before parting with your money."
In an associated scam, one WA consumer has reported losing $18,000 while attempting to buy a caravan online.
A fake website has been identified as Seven Stars Caravans (www.sevenstarscaravans.com), which has stolen the name from the legitimate business 7 Stars Caravans, www.7starscaravans.com.
More information: https://www.scamnet.wa.gov.au/ or 1300 30 40 54.