NER, NEDA Warn of Equipment Fraud

The National Equipment Register, New York, N.Y., today issued an alert provided by the Northeast Equipment Dealers Association (NEDA) regarding an organized crime ring that has been contacting dealers to fraudulently acquire internet-listed farm equipment.

In the alert, Federated Insurance, Owatonna, Minn., warns that thieves have scammed several Ohio Valley dealers by providing legitimate background information, including company names, check signee names, bank names, account numbers and other information. Once the dealer validates the information and confirms the identified bank account is active, the would-be buyer tells the dealers a driver will be dispatched with a check to pick up the equipment.

After picking up the equipment, the fraudulent buyer stops payment on the check and the equipment is officially stolen. The criminals steal the identity of the person(s) listed on the checking account and the company's list of employees.

One dealer who was scammed contacted fellow dealers in Kentucky and southern Indiana to warn them of the crime. Two other dealers confirmed they also were victims of the same scam. However, when a thief approached a northern Kentucky dealer who was familiar with the scam, police were contacted. The police placed a GPS tracking unit on the targeted equipment and allowed the thief to take it.

The equipment was then tracked to Indiana, and four men involved in the scam were arrested. Reportedly, they had a long list of arrest and several outstanding warrants. Authorities believe the group could be part of a larger criminal ring.

According to Federated Insurance, the thieves are extremely slick: One check that was issued had the actual signature of the person listed on the account, which was confirmed by the woman herself. Although authorities aren't sure how the criminals pulled off the scam, they are warning dealers to be aware. Dealers are advised to contact local authorities if they suspect theft or fraud.