Scam artists are taking advantage of Missouri’s drought conditions and farmers. The Missouri Department of Agriculture says it has received reports from producers who paid for hay upfront through a wire transfer, only to have no hay delivered.

The department says the scams are driven primarily through fake social media accounts. In most instances, the account appears to be real and gives no immediate indication of a scam.

“We encourage livestock producers to use extra caution,” said Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “The vast majority of sellers are legitimate and honest. These few bad actors are taking advantage of a serious situation and hay shortage. Make sure the seller is legitimate before you purchase hay or any other products.”

The agency recommends if you do not know the seller, ensure the seller is reputable. When possible, view the hay in person before any exchange of money. Do not rely on photographs on social media. Be cautious of any wire money exchange with someone you do not know.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture and MU Extension manage online hay directories, where livestock producers can search for hay made available by other producers. The MDA directory can be filtered by county or state.

If you are the victim of a scam involving hay, contact local law enforcement.

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