Authorities warn of ‘panic scam’ targeting ranchers

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Updated: Mar. 21, 2020 at 9:14 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Amid the pandemic and disruption of life caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, another problem oddly enough is caused to East Texas ranchers.

A panic scam.

Ranchers are targeted for a ruse that could cost them thousands of dollars in losses.

"In these situations where we have economic or industry distress, that always increases the number of desperate people.

People/s judgments are clouded by panic.

Con men will get on the phone and try to either buy or sell cattle," says Scott Williamson, executive director of law enforcement for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle-raisers Association.

The formula is more people turning to theft and deception to make ends meet, and more people buying or selling with clouded judgment.

The ploy is trying to convince ranchers into panic buying or selling, and convincing them there's no time to wait.

"The scam artists will make arraignments to purchase these animals, send you a check. The check will most times be worth more than the purchase was, that is a fraudulent document. Many of them will make it through the deposit process. Most of them use burner phones so you can't contact them back, or it's a different number," Scott says.

Williamson says it's especially important to be careful when buying or selling over the internet.

“They buy cattle online through some social networking or electronic sales, and you wire the money, take delivery, and end up with broken mouth cows that are half the value,” he says.

He warns ranchers at this time to be extra careful.

"Make sure you know who you're dealing with," Williamson says.

Ranchers are warned to ‘thoroughly’ verify the backgrounds and references of an perspective buyer or seller.

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