Hay Farmers Losing to Scam
Stan Cook crunches numbers for a living. He's a loan officer for the Missouri Department of Agriculture. So when he and some other farmers got an email last July to buy some hay, he got suspicious.
"Due to the emails, it became fairly apparent early on that it was a scam," explained Cook. In cooperation with the attorney general's office, Cook posed as an interested farmer, gaining as much information as he could about the suspected scam artist known as, "Willess Rydnak."
Rydnak exchanged a number of emails with Cook at the department of agriculture. In the emails, Rydnak sets out his scam in his own words.
He said, "I have mailed out the payment for my hay order. Like I told you in the previous mails, my hauler will come for the pick up from you so do go ahead and cut out my order," said Rydnak.
"He would send me a check which he did for roughly three times the amount of the value of the hay," said Cook.
"Then the farmer was asked to send payment for trucking purposes to a third party. The third party was obviously connected to the original request for the hay," said Matt Boatright from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
The original check was no good, and the farmer loses his money. But officials say scams can be avoided.
"It's important for our farmers to be business savvy. To make sure they're dealing with reputable people," said Boatright.
The attorney general's office says there have only been a few reported cases and it doesn't know of any farmer who has lost money.