Online scammers are continuing to use bogus machinery dealership websites to fleece WA farmers of their hard-earned cash in exchange for tractors and other equipment that doesn’t exist. Fake sites have used made-up branding names and slick-looking design to trick farmers into paying for fake machinery, with two farmers in WA robbed of a combined $15,500 since the start of the year. A Consumer Protection spokesman said the State Government watchdog had received six reports about farming machinery scams this year, down on last year’s 18 reports. Eight farmers were fleeced out of $169,600 through farm machinery scams last year, with a total 35 fake farm machinery-related scam websites reported to the organisation since 2020. Just two of those are still on line, with ScamNet managing to have 18 removed or deactivated. Many of the websites offer discounted tractors and other machinery, with payment via bank transfer only — a tactic that should immediately ring alarm bells for farmers. The warning for farmers to remain vigilant against cybercrime comes after an alleged livestock advertising scam was made public earlier this month. Police say the incident occurred last month when the alleged victim was led to believe they were purchasing a significant amount of livestock from a farm in Keysbrook, an outer southern suburb of Perth, after engaging in the alleged sales process via Facebook. It is alleged the victim transferred about $16,500 and was told to pick up the livestock, only to find the farm owners were not aware of the transaction upon their arrival on the property. Police say the victim attempted to contact the alleged fraudulent salesperson but the Facebook account had since been deleted. It was also believed the alleged salesperson was using the same Facebook account to post livestock advertisements to the Great Southern and Wheatbelt livestock sale pages. A ScamWatch spokesman said the livestock scam had not been reported to the organisation, with the matter being investigated by Harvey Police, but said it was indexed as a classified ad scam. There were 304 reports of classified ad scams last year, with 156 people – both farmers and members of the general public – losing a total of $336,762. “Classified scams trick buyers into thinking they are dealing with a legitimate seller and post fake ads on classifieds websites or social media,” the spokesman said . “To lure victims in a hurry, the scammer may advertise items at a price much lower than what is currently available in the marketplace. “Following payment, scam victims may receive a fake email receipt claiming to be from the website’s secure payment provider, however the goods won’t be delivered and the buyer will not be able to contact the seller.” The worst tractor scam offender in the WA last year was KY Machinery, a bogus tractor sales website that ripped off $62,400 from two unlucky farmers. Many of the fake machinery sites also refer victims to fake transport websites, claiming the funds will be held “in escrow” until the tractor has been inspected, and with the promise of a full refund if the customers weren’t satisfied. A total 39 fake machinery sites or transport sites have been reported on the ScamNet website, with farmers reporting having lost money through them in the past two years. The most recent, a machinery site called Ardeefarms.com, was added to the website in June. Visit scamnet.wa.gov.au.