Reports are coming in weekly, from both local law enforcement and individuals, warning of attempts to steal livestock, hay or equipment using counterfeit checks. In many cases the checks appear to be cashiers checks.
Jeremy Fuchs, with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), says his group is raising the alarm after special rangers noted weekly reports of these thefts by fraud attempts.
"Thus far, of the people our rangers have spoken to, no one has completed a transaction and been fully victimized," said Fuchs. "They have seen the warning signs and contacted their local banker or law enforcement before they cashed the check."
Fuchs says this scam is particularly dangerous because these checks may appear to be legitimate, and then once the cattle, hay or equipment is gone, the check will be returned as counterfeit.
This type of crime, he added, can be very difficult to solve. The thieves are hiding behind technology, and identifying them is not easy.
"In many cases you'd be working to identify people out of state or even out of country. They use technology to make it appear they live somewhere they don't, or they are calling from a number that does not exist. It's difficult on many levels, making prevention and awareness of red flags essential," said Fuchs.
Larry Gray, director of law enforcement at TSCRA, noted: "Knowledge is power in these sorts of situations. If you are aware of the red flags and act cautiously you can avoid falling victim to such scams."
Consider these tips from Gray during any business exchange:
1. When working with an unknown buyer, verify their information (including identity) through a third party.
2. Be extremely cautious about accepting personal or cashiers checks from strangers. Once the transaction is made it can very difficult to remedy the loss.
3. Never accept a check for more than the selling price, with the understanding you are to give the excess to someone else.
4. If you do accept a check, contact the issuing bank to verify authenticity.
5. Ask that checks be drawn on a bank with a branch in your area.
6. If someone asks you to send funds by wire transfer, be especially wary.
7. Make sure a check has cleared before you deliver items, and save all documentation.
Anyone concerned about a sale, or a buyer, should contact their local TSCRA special ranger or law enforcement. Those with a TSCRA agent (Texas and Oklahoma) can find their local representative at http://tscra.org/…
Victoria Myers can be reached at Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org
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