The COVID-19 outbreak has already hit the cattle markets hard. However, that’s not the only threat to ranchers’ livelihoods out there. 

Scott Williamson is Executive Director for Law Enforcement with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. 

He says thefts and scams targeting cattlemen are on the rise. 

“Economic and industry distress always increase the number of desperate people that will take fraudulent, dishonorable, and criminal actions,” he says. “You may feel like you need to be in a hurry to sell some cattle before it gets worse, or hurry to buy cattle while the prices are low. Slow down because con men and thieves are taking advantage of this situation.” 

It’s especially important to be careful when buying and selling over the internet. 

Williamson received a call from a cattleman that had purchased a truckload of cows represented as one thing, but when they arrived, the truckload was something else entirely. 

Unfortunately, the buyer had already wired the money. He says it’s important to verify the person you want to do business with is a trusted source. 

When selling, use something like an escrow service or online payment system. 

Never accept any check worth more than the sale’s value. 

Never issue payment until the items are received, unless you have complete trust in the seller.