By Olamide Tejuoso
Social media space is definitely a free platform for all, including fraudsters, popularly known as scammers. Whether as a farmer, who wants to get some products like seedlings or as a consumer, who wants to purchase some meat or fish or other products online, you could be at risk, if not well armed with information.
Scammers these days are always looking for new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting people even in the agriculture sector. A farmer once lamented how he had been scammed severally with fake seeds and farm implements making him to lose millions of naira worth of yield. What about the reports of those who sell fake fertilisers or poisoned feed? Many of these people are impostors commiting criminal acts under the guise of being farmers or entrepreneurs, thus depriving people of their hard-earned money.
A victim recently posted how a scammer purporting to own a farm on Facebook scammed her of roasted snails, which she had ordered. The farm personnel, according to her, claimed to be delivering nationwide. Could you imagine how really traumatising and frustrating it can be in a stifling economy, that after you transferred funds to someone, the person blocks you from sending or receiving any messages and even deletes a previously-existing page where you ordered from?
The fact is, scammers are always looking for new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting people especially the public, but by following these steps, you can reduce your risk of being scammed or better still, protect yourself from impostors:
Step 1: Be alert to the fact that scams exist everywhere, even in the agriculture sector. When you have this at the back of your mind, it will help you become more critical of who you order from or not, before you put your money and heart into it.
Step 2: Before you pay for any produce or goods, especially if it is not a properly-registered or known agro-store/farm, ensure to look out for reviews of clients and previous customers. Don’t be in a hurry to pay! Do your findings well.
Check their social media profiles and website. Do they have a history of not delivering on time? Are there any red flags that suggest they might be a scammer? If you then noticed something not adding up, or some contrasting information, ask for the opinion of people on your friend list or time line, if such person is the only available option for you at that time.
Step 3: Protect your personal information
Protect your personal information when making a business transaction or sales deal with any farmer or store. In fact, any genuine farmer would discourage from broadcasting your personal details. Never give out your social security number or bank account information to anyone, except the person is a known figure you can vouch for. Use a secure password for all of your online accounts, and avoid using public Wi-Fi when working with sensitive information.
Step 4: Trust your instincts
If something seems off or too good to be true, it probably is a scam. If your mind would not be at peace transacting business or some form of investment with someone because of their precedence, then don’t continue the relationship. Don’t save face at your own mental and financial risk.
Step 5: Request for a video call or zoom chat with the person you are transacting with, if the distance is so great. You don’t want to come back regretting your decision. If the organisation really wants to transact that large amount worth of business with you, then they should be able to pay the sacrifice.
In conclusion, it’s important to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest scams targeting farms and also the public; while also staying up-to-date with genuine ones. The more informed you are, the better equipped you’ll be to avoid scams and protect yourself, either as a farmer or as a consumer. Therefore, stay informed, stay vigilant, and stay safe!