Cattle producers are being urged to take extra precautions amid a surge of scams targeting ranchers.
Scott Williamson, the director of law enforcement for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, urged all ranchers to be on high alert. He says ranchers who do business via websites and social media should especially heed to the warnings.
He says scammers tend to use electronic or phone communications, which makes it more difficult for law enforcement to track down and prosecute the perpetrators.
One common scheme is a buyer will send a check or cashier’s check more than the agreed price, and then ask that the seller send the extra money to someone else to pay for transportation and delivery.
However, the check is often counterfeit so the victim is liable for the funds.
Another common scam will feature con artists falsely advertising items using misleading descriptions and fake photos or videos. In the end, they will deliver inferior products. Williamson says these are often civil cases, which means law enforcement cannot get involved.
“There are a lot of bad people out there who will try to take advantage of your trust and goodwill,” said Williamson. “Trust your instincts and remember the old saying — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Tips for avoiding fraud:
- Verify the person you are attempting to do business with a trusted source.
- When selling items consider payment options such as an escrow service or online payment system.
- Never accept a check or cashiers check for more than the value of the sale.
- Confirm checks are valid by contacting your bank or the issuing bank.
- When buying items never issue payment until the items are received unless you have complete trust in the seller.
- Always inspect and document livestock or items before taking delivery, and remember, you have the right to refuse delivery.
- If you believe that you are a victim of a bait and switch purchase, act quickly. The more time that lapses, the more it appears that you were initially agreeable to the transaction and the ability to remedy the problem erodes.