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IMPORTANT INFORMATION EVERY SELLER NEEDS TO KNOW!
You have a piece of equipment for sale! You have to find a buyer which means that you have to market that item. For the best results, you want to make sure that as many people as possible see that you have this equipment for sale and that the people seeing it really are interested and qualified to buy. Not an easy task! It's long been discovered that internet marketing can be used to reach an unlimited number of potential buyers. Unfortunately, like with so many other things, as soon as the 'good' side was discovered, there were those already figuring out how to use something positive for a very personal and underhanded motives. Today, we know that as 'spam.'
The heavy equipment and farm machinery industries have been targeted very hard in recent years. The type of equipment and dollar value of many of the items often require a longer time period to find just that right buyer. It can lead to an almost 'desperate' desire to find a buyer, and it can leave a seller in a very vulnerable state - and these 'not so desirable' people know that - and take advantage of it. Though spam is a problem that continues to double year in and year out, sellers of machinery and equipment have been targeted by even a more devious type of predator - 'con artists.' And, they are getting braver! No longer limiting themselves to making contact via the internet only, they now are using telephones and even making personal appearances.
We here at American-ag.com understand that a variety of marketing methods, including the internet, is a powerful tool to the sale of your equipment. We utilize many of them, and each week equipment is sold in legitimate transactions arising from the various methods of marketing that we employ. We have implemented as many procedures as possible in order to protect our clients. We are more than happy to assist state and federal governments in their attempts to clean these practices up, to regulate them, and to enforce strict penalties for violations. We work hard to educate and forewarn our clients about the potential dangers out there. We go above and beyond the required precautions to protect the people that we work with. However, as soon as one technology is invented, the con artists seem to find a way to circumvent it - so, you're greatest protection is to be aware and to take necessary precautions to protect yourself.
Below is a list of the most common types of scams and little 'triggers' that you should be on the lookout for whenever you are dealing with a potential buyer that you do not know:
1. Inquiries coming from other countries have a high potential of being fradulent.
Common sense would tell you that virtually anywhere in the world, a buyer can obtain the equipment they are looking for. Why then, would someone incur higher costs and problems looking for equipment half a world away?
Return e-mails that include 2 characters represent codes for different countries, and whether the e-mail specifically states that they are abroad or not - if you see that, the transmission is being generated outside the country. For example - .au represents Austrailia, .uk represents the United Kingdom, and so on.
Not all e-mails that are foreign have these extensions. However, may of the e-mails used for contact today are written in very poor English and that is a very noticeable sign.
2. Offers from interested buyers claiming to be with 'financial institutions' - both foreign and domestic.
3. Numerous offers from the same person, or the same offer (with the same person's name in the e-mail) but coming from different e-mail addresses.
This is especially easy to see if you have more than one item for sale as you will probably receive one for each item. If it looks like it's a form letter - it probably is. These people go through classified sections both on-line and in print - and simply go down the list. The type of equipment, the price, the details - it makes no difference to them since they have no intention of paying for it in the first place. Whatever piece of equipment they may end up with has some type of value, and if it cost them nothing - whatever they get out of it, they're money ahead. Plus, they have another intention in mind to further enhance their profitability, which is discussed in greater detail below.
4. Buyers wanting to use cashier's checks, certified checks, or money orders!
This is the number one scam currently taking place. Throughout time, these financial instruments have been trustworthy - as good as money in the bank. Better printing techniques now allow very authentic looking instruments to be manufactured - that is no longer true. They may look very real - but once presented to a bank for payment, are refused. ALWAYS VERIFY FUNDS PRIOR TO COMPLETING THE TRANSACTION!
5. Offers to pay more than the asking price of your equipment
Common sense would tell you 'why?' Afterall, when is the last time that you voluntarily offered to pay more for an item than was being asked?
Some scams claim that they are paying more because they require your 'assistance.' That is usually another 'trigger' that all in not well in the transaction. Again - verify the funds prior to the completing the transaction!
6. Giving back 'change'
A scam artist may have a reason as to 'why' the check or money order has already been made out for above the purchase price - or why they need to have it made out for more. Then, they ask if you will remit the difference back to them in cash! It's quite a deal - for them!
While we can't say with 100% certainty that there would never be a time when this might be involved in a legitimate transaction - we would not advise anyone to do this.
7. Questionable transportation arrangements or buyers insistent on using their own provider
Potential buyers may tell you not to worry about shipping - they've taken care of it and they have their own transportation company they'll be using, so you need not get involved.
Others may ask if it will be acceptable to you for them to use their own shipping company. They may even go so far as to want you release funds to the person acting as the shipper.
This is a very clear indication that things are not on the up-and-up. Any reputable company who transports an item will have a paper trail of exactly where that item went. A person coordinating a fradulent transaction doesn't want that paper trail, so they send their own 'shipping' company - which may amount to a co-conspirator - and as soon as they drive away - they and your equipment vanish into thin air. Anyone too overly concerned about which company transports an item or refuses your offer to arrange shipping is someone to take a very close look at.
In a nutshell, the most common type of scam being run on sellers today goes something along these lines. Below is an actual e-mail being used today, and there are many of them, with slight variations:
I just place a look on your tractor and i am interested in immediate purchase, but before i proceed on this transaction i will like to ask some question as follow. 1. Do you accept a (Cashier Check/Money Order) as a mode of payment? 2. What is the final asking price you can go at last? 3. Will you let our shipping company to come to your location for the pick up of the tractor cos we don't want you to worry yourself about the shipping of the car our private shpping company i'll responsible for that. 4 How long have you had the tractor, what is the working condition. 5 if you agreed with out term, sen me your Full Name, Contact address, tel # to mail out the payment today. 5. Will you be able to send the excess fund back to the shipper company via western union money transfer same day your receive the check for the shipping freight, booking and registration form for the picked and some necessary document to attached to the pick up of the tractor
Again, this is an actual e-mail that we received, and continue to receive over and over - on virtually every piece of equipment. As you can see - it has it all!
So, does protecting yourself mean not marketing your item?
Of course not! If you don't market it - you'll probably never sell it! And, if you wait until someone you personally know suddenly has a need or an interest, you'll probably be in for a long wait! However, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Excercising common sense and taking precations is the key. Remember, that you are the seller and as such, you have every right to not only question things that don't make sense, you have a responsibility to yourself not to become a victim! Below are some things you can do to avoid finding yourself in this situation:
1. Avoid establishing contact with buyers that exhibit all the signs of being a scam artist. They may have contacted you, but there's nothing determining that you have to contact them back. Receiving something like that letter above - our recommended course of action is to hit the 'delete' key. A reputable buyer is out there. Why put yourself in a vulnerable position?
2. Ask questions - as many as you need to, and expect answers that make sense. If you can't get any - thank the person for their interest and terminate the negotiations. Don't let a person's pushiness or forcefulness push you into doing something that you feel isn't right. Continuing contact in a situation like that gives them the upper hand. If you find yourself in a situation that you are not comfortable with - thank them and tell them that you are not interested!
3. Be involved in the transaction details. As the seller, you have every right to determine what the terms of the sale will include. Again, if things are getting out of hand - it's most likely an indication of trouble.
4. Never release your equipment or excess funds until the you have verified the validity of the financial instrument (by taking it to your bank), and preferably have received the funds. Your bank will probably still put a 'hold' on those funds - you should hold your equipment for that period, too. Don't be pressured into this 'same' day turnaround. If you've ever made a large purchase, think back to it. Did you need one day settlement? Why would anyone else? In reality, there's only one reason that someone would need 'same day turnaround' and that is in order to 'disappear.'
In fact, any transaction with somewhat questionable terms can be referred to an escrow company, - and we recommend using one whenever there is some doubt. They will make the arrangements, and both buyer and seller can rest assured. If a buyer refuses, even if you offer to cover the costs entirely - that's another clear indication that everything is not quite right.
American-ag & Heavy Equipment is very committed to the prevention of spam and scams originating via the internet. It is a black mark against all legitimate web-based companies, and it's time to take an active role in the prevention of it. We report spam and identies associated with 'spamers' to both their ISPs and to any regulating agencies that are interested. We keep and track copies of suspect communications, but that information does no one any good tucked away. Therefore, we are publishing a list of e-mail addresses in which questionable (and numerous) e-mails have originated from. If you are contacted by anyone on this list - please exercise extreme care should you decide to establish contact back.
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org (This one has man different numbers after the lopezz) sterlingtonlinebanking.com
email@example.com (This one has man different numbers after the lopezz)
While all contact established to date, that we are aware of, has been via e-mail, there is one exception: Donald Welsch. We have received information from clients that Mr. Welsch has been contacting them via the telephone - so, please - use extreme care when dealing with any of the above metioned e-mail addresses.
As always, American-ag & Heavy Equipment is only happy to assist buyers and sellers, and should you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.
UPDATE 3/07 - As you can probably see from the above list, the largest source of spammers we deal with ge