KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is warning residents about potential online scams involving purchasing cattle online.

State officials posted to their Facebook page about a Coffee County farmer who spoke to an alleged scammer claiming to be in Arkansas about purchasing livestock on a site called “Cattle Exchange.”

The farmer saw photos/video of the cattle and settled on a price. The “seller” requested a $15,000 deposit, which was sent via wire transfer, with the remaining fee to be paid upon delivery.

After sending the initial payment, the scammer requested the farmer sign a contract and pay the fee in full before delivery. The farmer then realized something was wrong and contacted law enforcement.

He called the police, but investigators weren’t able to contact the “seller” since the wire transfer went to a bank outside of the United States.

“Cattle Exchange is aware of this alleged scammer/seller and told investigators they removed several other posts from the same name,” according to TDA.

TDA also provided tips on what do when making negotiations online to protect people from scams.

When purchasing cattle online:

  • Do your homework. Ask all the questions regardless of registered or commercial livestock.
  • Get guarantees in writing. Females, Open/Bred. Bulls for breeding—Have they had a BSE done?
  • It is strongly suggested that buyers visualize animals in person or have a trusted agent go to inspect animals prior to purchase.
  • Make sure animals are accompanied by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection as is required by state and federal rules when moving animals interstate.

When selling cattle online:

  • Research the buyer online and/or reach out to the state livestock association or agriculture extension and see if they are familiar or know someone who might be.
  • While a cashier’s check is a standard method of payment and typically safe, contact the financial institution where the check is drawn to ensure its validity. There may be insufficient funds or the check itself may be counterfeit.
  • Be wary of offers to pay over the purchase price, even if there seems to be a valid reason.

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For more information about the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, visit tn.gov/agriculture.