Attorney General And Department Of Agriculture Warn Farmers Of "Overpayment"? Scam

August 31, 2007

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe and Maine Agriculture Commissioner Seth Bradstreet III issued the following consumer warning:

The Maine Department of Agriculture has received several complaints from Maine farmers regarding a scam in which a person from out of state inquires about purchasing hay. The scammer then sends the farmer a check (that is either fraudulent or drawn on an account with no money in it) for an amount greater than the cost of the hay purchased. Due to the overpayment, the farmer is asked to wire the difference back to the scammer. When the check fails to clear, the farmer is out the money.

"We have seen this type of scam before. In the past it has involved predominately eBay transactions, but thieves are constantly changing their methods and looking for new victims." stated Attorney General Rowe

Upon deposit, the amount of the check oftentimes appears to be available in the bank account. This does not mean that the check has cleared or will clear. The Office of the Attorney General encourages anyone who is asked to wire money as the result of an overpayment to ask their bank to notify them when the check has cleared. After they have received notification from the bank, they can determine whether or not it is a legitimate transaction.

"Maine farmers work too hard to see their money stolen by thieves who hide behind veils of anonymity provided by out-of-state phone calls and wire transfers," Commissioner Bradstreet noted. "If farmers believe they are contacted by one of these scam artists they should not hesitate to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division."

The number for the AG's Consumer Protection Division is (800) 436-2131.

David Loughran, (207) 626-8577