Fraudsters have conned almost half a million pounds out of farmers in north-west England.

One farmer lost £90,000 after being hoodwinked into revealing his online banking details and passwords to the crooks. Four farmers in south Lancashire are known to have lost money – but it is feared many more could have been targeted.

The scam involves farmers being phoned and told their bank accounts have been compromised and should be closed. The victim is told to phone the bank using the number published on the back of their credit card to confirm the call is genuine.

See also: Farmers warned to stay vigilant over phone scam

The fraudster holds the line open to intercept the call, then asks the victim to provide their internet log-in details, customer numbers, passwords or card reader codes to transfer the money into a different account.

In reality the fraudsters transfer the money into their own account.

Robert Sheasby, NFU North West regional director, said the scam was so sophisticated it was not difficult to see why people had been caught out.

“It’s inevitable that there will be more people affected because the fraud is so sophisticated. [They know] if they get through to the farmer they are speaking to the person who handles the finances for often very big companies.”
Carl Hudspith, NFU communications advisor

“The scammers play a dialling tone and a ringing tone so the victim thinks they are placing a new call, then they hear someone posing as a bank worker who asks seemingly legitimate security questions,” he added.

Because the victims had passed on their security details and authorisation for a transfer, it is possible the bank may not be liable to recover the loss, said Mr Sheasby. “We don’t know how many times it is moved by the fraudsters, which makes tracking more difficult,” he added.

NFU communications advisor Carl Hudspith said it was vital farmers were alert for potential scams from con artists who are targeting producers.

“At this time of year with planting and lambing going on they are catching farmers when they are busy and preying on the fact that they have their minds on so many things,” he said.

“It’s inevitable that there will be more people affected because the fraud is so sophisticated. [They know] if they get through to the farmer they are speaking to the person who handles the finances for often very big companies.”

Remember, your bank will never call, email or text you to ask you for your account number, PIN or password to your account. If you are targeted, call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

  • Have you been a victim of this scam? Email Philip Case of Farmers Weekly‘s newsdesk at philip.case@rbi.co.uk