Farmers in NI have been urged to be vigilant for scams when buying machinery and other goods online.

Ronan Convery from the Consumer Council said that coronavirus lockdowns have led many farmers to start using internet shopping for the first time.

Speaking to UFU members on Monday, Convery said that £399,480 was lost to scams in NI during March 2021, and the figure for the previous 12 months stands at almost £5.5m.

“This is only what has been reported to the PSNI. Very often, people don’t report scams because they are embarrassed or they don’t want their families to know,” he said.

In March 2021, there were 764 phone scams and 125 internet scams reported to police in NI. There were an additional 15 postal scams and 12 doorstep incidents.

Convery said that the advice for spotting scams applies across all mediums of communication. The first letters in each of his four steps form the acronym “SCAM”:

  • Seems to good to be true.
  • Contacted out of the blue.
  • Asked for personal details.
  • Money is requested.
  • “From the phone, to cyber, to people coming to the door, to social media adverts, if you use those four tests, it will make you safe 99% of time,” said Convery.