Farmers in four states, including one in Iowa, have been defrauded out of more than a million dollars by a bait and switch scheme based in Central Missouri.
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon has filed a lawsuit against five mid-Missourians who Nixon says scammed at least 12 people around the Midwest by promising healthy, pregnant cattle but delivering sickly cattle instead.
Nixon says this case does damage to an industry where most deals are conducted with a smile and a handshake. “If people don’t live up to that handshake and smile, then they know those of us in law enforcement are going to work with the Cattlemen’s Association and others and farmers to make sure that continues to be the way we operate in Missouri,” Nixon says. He says it is difficult to uncover a scam like this.
“A lot of these folks don’t want to come forward. They feel like they’ve been duped or whatever and they don’t want to admit they’ve been ripped off,” Nixon says. According to Nixon, Job Keltner — a farmer from Wapello, Iowa — was ripped off by the five Missouri cattle traders.
The Missouri Attorney General says the five defendants are associated with M-J-L Cattle Company in New Franklin, Missouri. At least a dozen Midwest farmers were scammed. “As the Cattlemen’s Association has told folks, watching the cattle you buy be unloaded and then following quickly if you don’t get what you paid for is very, very important because it is a business that does operate on a handshake,” Nixon says. The Missouri Attorney General says the scam defrauded people not only in Missouri, and Iowa, but also in Kansas and Nebraska.
Peggy Morrow of Rocheport, Missouri; Jason Hackman of New Franklin, Missouri; Lance Neff of Napton, Missouri; Ben Leonard of Bunceton, Missouri; and Robert Simmons of Boonville, Missouri all face jail time on the criminal charges and are being sued in civil court, too.