opinion

Scammed couple get a lift with new wheels

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Donnybrook farmers Gary and Verna Elks are very happy with their new tractor.
Camera IconDonnybrook farmers Gary and Verna Elks are very happy with their new tractor. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

A Donnybrook farming couple fleeced out of $19,000 after falling for an online machinery scam have had a somewhat happy ending to their story after being given a discount and a free pair of hay forks on a tractor by a generous WA business.

Verna and Gary Elks have tried their hardest to spread the word about a surge in online scammers since they were deceived when trying to buy a tractor through a fake website — boramachinery. com — this year.

They did not realise anything was wrong until the tractor they had paid for did not arrive.

The couple, who run about 50 cattle and some marron on 68ha, were left heartbroken that the tractor that was supposed to “make their life easier” had cost them dearly.

But finally, a bit of good luck has come their way.

Donnybrook farmers Gary and Verna Elks are very happy with their new tractor.
Camera IconDonnybrook farmers Gary and Verna Elks are very happy with their new tractor. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

The pair were scouring the classifieds for a tractor in June when a blue 1994 Ford 6610 tractor caught their eye.

After selling 37 Murray Grey cattle at the Boyanup Saleyards, the pair contacted Range Equipment and picked up the tractor from Dardanup.

Firm believers in paying their own way, the Elks were not interested in crowdfunding for a new tractor but were delighted to get a discount and have a pair of hay forks thrown in after sharing their story with Range Equipment owner Jonathan Goyder.

The blue machine has replaced their much-loved but weary 66-year-old Zetor tractor — an orange beauty once favoured by farmers across the South West.

The Elks said they had “loved the experience” of buying locally and urged other farmers to purchase machinery “in-person” — even if machinery was cheaper online.

Mr Elks said the tractor had made a world of difference to he and his wife, who moved to Donnybrook from Perth to semi-retire and run cattle in 2004.

So far, they have used the tractor to cart firewood, move hay, and move felled trees on the property they bought when they moved from Perth to semi-retire in 2004.

“It has a big bucket on it and you can change it over for hay forks,” Mr Elks said.

“It has just saved us from doing back-breaking work like cutting up firewood and moving it slowly.

“Having this tractor just makes life so much easier. We couldn’t be happier.”

After what Mrs Elks said had been a “heartbreaking” few months for the pair, things have started to turn around.

They recently received about half of the total they were scammed out of as part of a refund from the Commonwealth Bank.

They are now pursuing the remainder from Bankwest through the Financial Industry Complaints Service Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman.

The Elks are among 13 West Australians fleeced out of $203,000 in similar scams this year.

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