E-mail scam targets livestock owners

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REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – Following two apparent exporting scam attempts at Ohio livestock farmers, Ohio Agriculture Director Fred L. Dailey is warning producers to take precautions when doing international business.

Here’s how a beef cattle producer in Carrollton, Ohio, described an attempted scam in a recent phone call to the Ohio Department of Agriculture:

The scheme. The Ohio producer had been contacted in late spring through e-mail by an individual living in the United Kingdom. The e-mailer expressed an interest in buying American beef cattle for export to a farm in Nigeria.

The parties negotiated by e-mail and telephone. The overseas buyer asked the Ohio producer to accept a cashier’s check in the amount of $25,000, from which the producer was to take his negotiated $10,000 payment for the livestock, then send the remaining $15,000 to the buyer’s “broker” as payment for “transporting and paperwork.”

When the buyer’s cashier’s check arrived, however, its authenticity was found to be illegitimate.

Similar incident. A nearly identical incident happened to an Athens, Ohio, beef cattle producer, except the buyer was living in the Netherlands and sent a money order to purchase the livestock.

Fortunately, both producers checked with a bank before exporting the animals and forwarding money, averting a potential scam.

Where to get help. Ohioans who believe they have been involved in a similar situation should contact their local law enforcement office or the U.S. Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division, at 202-406-5850.

Direct legal action against the alleged perpetrators of these schemes is beyond the state agriculture department’s regulatory authority.

Also, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has no jurisdiction over these cases because those carrying out the alleged scams live outside the country.

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Protect yourself

Livestock owners should always take the following steps to help protect themselves when exporting animals:



* If you are accepting a cashier’s check or money order, make sure to check its authenticity with a bank before you ship your animals. Most buyers will issue a letter of credit.



* Never agree to forward money to an export broker – a reputable livestock buyer would never ask you to do this.



If you have questions or concerns about exporting livestock, or suspect you might be the target of an attempted scam, call the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Markets at 614-752-9814.

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