HayHub user Curtis O. tells the tale of a dealing with a hay scammer.
(Please consider using Scamwatch - it's free, for all.)
Curtis: The guy called himself Jim Walker* from Olathe, Kansas.
He offered to buy the remainder of my hay - 28 bales - at my asking price, and said he would send a trucker to pick it up.
He would have his banker send a cashier's check, but would not send the trucker until after the check had cleared.
He asked some sensible questions about the hay, and also needed straw.
He told me that he stammered badly and would prefer text to phone calls.
Together, these things were a little unusual, but his inquiry sounded authentic.
Alarm bells rang when he said the check was on the way, but there was an issue with the trucker regarding money for a previous delivery.
He had already paid the trucker for the previous delivery, but there had been a bank problem with the payment. It was being sorted, but would take time to clear.
As a result, he had included the shipping costs for my hay in my check. He would send instructions on how to forward the funds to the trucker.
I e-mailed the guy back that I would not forward any excess funds, that he should cancel his check, and send me another check for the correct amount.
Meanwhile, I had other local people ask about the hay and I sold most of it to them.
I then e-mailed Mr. Walker and told him that the hay was gone.
He said he was disappointed, but was understanding. In fact, he would send me instructions on how to return the funds and I could keep $350 for my trouble!
Then the check arrived.
I was going to send the check straight back, but first I looked up the return address on the internet.
It was for a legitimate business in Olathe, KS, a pet food distributor.
And, there was a Jim Walker in Olathe, KS!
The check was for about $4,800, I think. That was much more than the cost of the hay, but maybe a reasonable amount for the hay plus trucking.
The check was from a big bank, listed what looked like a real account and check number, and there was an authentic looking watermark on the back.
I asked my banker how I could know if a cashier's check was authentic.
They told me I could call the bank that wrote the check - If I gave them the account number and check number, the issuing bank could tell me whether it was authentic.
I called the pet food company - They had not heard of Jim Walker.
Then I called the issuing bank - They told me the account number and check number were not real.
The check, and Jim, were fake.
I shredded the check, felt a little frustrated for the wasted time, but a little rewarded for a healthy skepticism.
HayHub: Thanks for sharing your story Curtis!
It's not just HayHub warning about this.
* Out of respect to the real 'Jim Walker' in Olathe Kansas, who had his identity stolen as part of this scam, this name has been changed.
Hayhub adds that while this scammer was targeting users of another site, the key points from Curtis' story are valid for all commerce at distance.