After some Wisconsin State Farmer readers have taken out ads in our paper, many tell us they have been called by people offering to help them sell their farm implements, trucks or other equipment.
Newspaper management wants to make sure our readers know that none of these people are authorized by Wisconsin State Farmer to make these calls. They are also not affiliated with us in any way.
Readers relate that some of the callers say they're from finance companies.
Others operate as brokers putting trucks and equipment on websites and on other sales mediums — for a fee.
Jeff Lehndorf, a reader who farms near Bonduel, recently placed an ad in our paper for a large grain truck and was immediately contacted by someone who said he was from a finance company.
Later he was called by a man offering to help him sell his truck for $628.
"He was pretty aggressive, calling me five times a day. By Saturday he dropped his price to $528 and I told him off. I got mad. I just didn't think it sounded right."
One of those callers told him that Wisconsin State Farmer had given out his name and that their service was offered at a one-time promotion as a way to network and sell his truck.
"I've sold a lot of things through your newspaper," he said in a telephone interview Monday, "and I haven't needed help to sell it."
The aggressive caller said Lehndorf had his truck under priced.
The farmer said he has sold other grain trucks in the newspaper as well as some older tractors, which had much lower price tags. "I guess when I'm selling an Oliver tractor for $2,000 they probably wouldn't give that the time of day."
Tom Lembcke, who farms near Union Grove, got a similar call. He had placed an ad to sell a John Deere combine in the newspaper and got a call from someone saying he was from a finance company.
He was anxious to sell the combine and quickly agreed to pay the $430 charge for the service mentioned by the caller. During the conversation he also mentioned a tractor he wanted to sell so they charged another $430 to his credit card.
Both men said these callers were from Omaha, NB.
"They led me to believe they had some business connection with Wisconsin State Farmer," Lembcke said.
They told him he would get a confirmation letter in the mail but he still hasn't seen one. He has put "in dispute" the charge to his credit card. "If I'd had the chance I would have cancelled it. My face is red."
This caller indicated to him that there was a business connection to Wisconsin State Farmer or that in some way the newspaper had authorized them to call him. Neither is true.
"I think I'll probably end up paying that $860, which doesn't make me happy. If it isn't a scam it's the next thing to it."
Sandy Chalmers, administrator of the Consumer Protection Division at the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said her office could begin an investigation of the one case to determine if it was fraud.
She said that when our readers get unsolicited calls like these, it could potentially be a violation of the state's no-call law.
"The internet makes it so easy for people to prey on you. If you do get unsolicited calls, resist the high pressure pitch and resist the urge to give out financial information."
One thing to do if people get those kinds of high-pressure calls is to ask for references. "Ask for somebody in your area who has taken advantage of the service and is happy with it," she suggested.
"Resist the urge to give the person on the other end of an unsolicited call any kind of financial information. So often those calls are not legitimate."