Awareness and Preparation: Avoiding Potential Scams When Buying or Selling Cattle Online

In a world dominated by technology many producers have taken advantage of using the internet for buying and marketing cattle. While the internet can serve as a great tool to reach a broader audience of potential customers, there is an added risk when selling online that many are unaware of. Scam artists have begun infiltrating the livestock industry through targeting online cattle buyers and sellers. Awareness about this potential threat and knowing what to look for when talking to buyers and sellers can help you navigate the attempts of scammers to deceive you as you attempt to buy or sell cattle online.

Cattle can be marketed online through a variety of social media platforms and websites. This has created an opportunity for scammers to target a new audience. Scam artists have begun scouring these social media pages and websites in attempts to exploit cattle buyers and sellers through a variety of tactics. Approaching online cattle transactions with caution and an understanding of what to look for can help prevent you from falling prey to a potential scammer.

When buying or selling cattle online you want to make sure who you are dealing with is a legitimate buyer or seller. This can be difficult but by asking the right questions and using your own industry knowledge to know what questions a potential buyer or seller would ask can help you avoid the potential of falling victim to a scam artist.

Things to Remember When Buying or Selling Cattle Online:

  1. Research:
    • Verify the legitimacy of potential buyers or sellers by researching their names, operations, and provided addresses.
    • Check online platforms and social media pages for information about the individual or operation.
  2. Industry Knowledge:
    • Legitimate buyers or sellers should demonstrate experience and knowledge of the cattle industry.
    • Be cautious if a party asks only basic questions or lacks industry-specific knowledge.
  3. Ask Detailed Questions:
    • Engage in conversations that require more in-depth knowledge, helping to gauge the legitimacy of the other party.
    • Request specific information, such as addresses for transfer papers, to verify their identity.
  4. In-Person Inspection:
    • Insist on viewing the cattle in person before finalizing any transactions.
    • Physical inspection helps ensure that the cattle exist and meet your expectations.

Red Flags to Watch Out For:

  1. Lack of Questions:
    • Be cautious if the other party asks very few or only basic questions. Scammers may avoid detailed discussions.
  2. Mismatched Information:
    • Inconsistent information, such as a buyer or seller’s name not matching the provided address, should raise suspicions.
  3. Overpayment Scams:
    • Scammers may send more money than agreed upon, followed by a request for a refund. Exercise caution when dealing with unexpected overpayments.
  4. Avoiding Personal Contact:
    • Refusal to meet in person or reluctance to communicate via phone can be a red flag.
    • Genuine buyers and sellers should be willing to engage in direct communication.
  5. Transaction Without Inspection:
    • Be skeptical if a buyer sends money without physically inspecting the cattle, relying solely on advertisement pictures.

Buying and selling cattle online can be a great asset to cattle producers but they need to have an awareness of the potential threat of scams. Prepare a list of questions to ask buyers or sellers so you can determine their legitimacy and establish a list of potential red flags to look for. Remember not to allow the excitement of making a purchase or a sale to cause you to overlook red flags that will be presented. Your knowledge of the cattle industry should help you in determining who is a legitimate buyer or seller and who is not.

For additional reading on scams in the cattle industry this article from the Angus Journal provides information on a real life scenario that happened to a ranching family in North Carolina: Don’t Be Sold on a Scam: How to Make Smart Decisions While Selling Cattle Online (


Posted: January 4, 2024

Category: Livestock
Tags: Buying Cattle, Cattle, Cattle Buying Scams, Florida, Highlands County

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