Western Oklahoma sheriff warns against online scammers targeting farmers

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BECKHAM COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) - The Beckham County sheriff is warning residents about a new scam targeting farmers on Facebook.

“I look at it as a virus, I think it’s just evolved,” said Beckham County Sheriff Derek Manning.

Scammers are finding new ways to target unsuspecting online sellers.

In this case, farmers who are selling hay or cattle on Facebook are the prey.

“I think they’re trying to take advantage of that because some of the other scams people have gotten used to,” Manning said.

The way it works is farmers selling goods on Facebook are sent a check for payment.

The check is always for more money than the seller was charging; sometimes up to an extra $1,000.

“The check has always had an overpayment with them. Which the scammer has told them is an overpayment for hauling. Then asked them to send that money back to them, so they can pay the hauler,” Manning said.

If the seller falls for the scam, they end up sending back the overpayment, without realizing the check was a fraud.

Then that seller is out their own hard-earned money.

“In all occasions, fortunately, the farmers have had the presence of mind either to check the status of the check that they received with their bank, or call us,” Manning said.

While none of the farmers targeted wanted to go on camera, the Beckham County sheriff tells KFOR in one case, a farmer became suspicious when a buyer tried to get him to deposit a check through a retail checking service.

Sheriff Manning says there is a way to make sure the buyer is the real deal.

“You can ask the person to send them a photo ID. Send a photo ID to you over the phone or mail one to you. They’re not going to do that because they don’t exist as the person they’re representing themselves to be,” Manning said.

The sheriff says so far, they believe these scammers are out-of-state and could be targeting farmers across the country.

The sheriff’s office will be working with other states involved to help find the people responsible.

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