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Livestock producers alerted to increasing scams, thefts in some parts of the country


F.Ganje - March 24, 2020

PIERRE, SD - The coronavirus pandemic impact on the cattle market has been dramatic already. But that’s not the only threat to ranchers’ livelihood.

For those who feel they need to sell in a hurry or buy in a hurry, it can lead to making decisions in a panicked state that may cloud judgement and leave producers vulnerable.

According to Scott Williamson, executive director of law enforcement, brand and inspection services for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, “Economic and industry distress always increases the number of desperate people that will take fraudulent, dishonorable and criminal actions,” adding that thefts and scams targeting cattlemen are on the rise.

In South Dakota, Dustin Oedekoven, executive secretary of the South Dakota Animal Industry Board  says that while he hasn’t been notified about any livestock thefts or scams, this is a good time to be vigilant.

 “When you do make those decisions, work with credible, bonded sources.” In South Dakota, all auction markets are licensed and bonded, the same as livestock dealers, through the Animal Industry Board.” 

He continued, “Ask to see a dealer’s license – especially if you’re going outside of your usual marketing avenues. It doesn’t hurt to practice due diligence on someone you’re working with, when making decisions to market.”

Williamson observes, “You may feel like you need to get in a hurry to sell some cattle before it gets worse or get in a hurry to buy while the prices are low. But please slow down and be prudent, because con men and thieves are taking advantage of this situation.”

He said it’s especially important to be careful when buying or selling over the internet.

“Be extremely wary,” he said. “Be sure you have some way to absolutely confirm who that person is. My suggestion is don’t do any business without being able to tangibly lay your eyes on it or meet someone. I know that seems like overkill to some people, but you just can’t be too careful.”

Earlier this week, Williamson received a call that proved his point. A cattleman had purchased a truckload of cows represented as one thing, but when they arrived, they were another. Unfortunately, he had already wired the money.

“This gets especially dangerous because your perception or agreements over the phone do not likely predicate a criminal charge or investigation,” Williamson said.

He offered the following 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 cashier’s 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 you are a victim of a bait and switch purchase, act quickly. The more time that lapses, the more it appears you were initially agreeable to the transaction and the ability to remedy the problem erodes.

In South Dakota, Oedekoven says a ‘neighborhood watch’ kind of system has been in practice for generations.   “As always, every livestock producer makes provisions to check on livestock as needed  and to be aware of where livestock are.

He adds, “Communicating closely with neighbors and keeping an eye on things has always been the way in South Dakota. Staying in touch with neighbors is the best way to alert others of anything out of place in the countryside.”

Listen to the complete interview ON DEMAND



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