Fraudsters targeting farmers

Lloyds TSB Agriculture has warned that farmers could be in danger of losing large sums of money to fraudsters, following a spate of criminal activity targeting the sector.

The alert was issued today (8 December) after the bank discovered that a number of farmers are being targeted by fraudsters, who are enticing them to invest large sums of money in non-UK stock with promises of spectacular rewards.

In one case, Lloyds TSB stopped one of its customers transferring US $60,000 to a Florida bank account. It appears that farmers in recent recipient of single farm payment cheques are being specifically targeted.

Peter Sobey, head of agriculture at Lloyds TSB Agriculture, said: "This is a very serious issue and we are urging farmers to proceed with caution when contacted regarding investment opportunities.

"We already know that at least three customers have been targeted, and there may be many more.

"Anyone approached by a business offering a non-UK investment opportunity should get in touch with their financial adviser or local agricultural bank manager to discuss in more detail. If the investment scheme seems too good to be true, then it probably is!"

In all three cases, the fraudsters approached farmers who have already made investments and advised them that their existing funds were making a profit, although locked-in for 12 months.

Known as boiler room frauds, these typically overseas operations use high-pressure selling techniques to persuade UK investors to purchase shares, which turn out to be worthless.