Home Secretary Amber Rudd must do more to combat fraudsters who target farmers by advertising goods and products which do not exist.
In some cases farmers have paid out thousands of pounds for machinery and kit which con artists advertised for sale online. When the money was transferred, the sellers were uncontactable.
In a letter to the Home Secretary, Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said one of his constituents had fallen victim to a similar scam, but later found out others had also been duped by the same company.
Mr Evans said: “There are some completely unscrupulous groups and individuals out there who are stealing money from people by promising to deliver on products but never following through.
“I think more needs to be done to help stop this. When there is fraudulent activity happening out of a particular bank account, the bank should step in and stop all ingoing and outgoing at least, if not freeze the assets.”
Mr Evans said in this particular case, the company, LP UK Plant Sales, had numerous bank accounts with Natwest.
“They claim they cannot take credit cards and ask for a bank transfer instead. Once this has been sent, they go completely silent and are never heard from again. I would urge any farmers to steer clear of them and their sales.”
Farmers have been advised to buy equipment through their credit cards, which afford some financial protection.
If firms claim they cannot accept credit cards that should act as a ‘red flag’.
Mr Evans added: “There are procedures and checks that must be gone through to open a business bank account as any business owner will know.
“I would like to know how these fraudsters are able to get away with this and to open multiple accounts without this being caught by the banks themselves.”
Mr Evans has written to the Home Secretary to ask what action the Government is taking to clamp down on these practices and what steps can be taken to ensure banks have the ability and the incentive to prevent these criminals from using their services.
Anyone who has been the victim of a scam should report it to their bank, Action Fraud and their insurer. Businesses have also been encouraged to report attempted fraud as it could help prevent other people falling victim.
If businesses are currently losing money, they should contact the police via the non-emergency number, 101.
For advice or to register concern about any fraudulent activity, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.