USDA officials are warning farmers in Nebraska and several other states about fraudulent faxes being sent to individuals and businesses.
Mike Sanders, chief administrative officer for the Farm Service Agency in Nebraska, says farmers everywhere should be on guard and certainly should not respond to the letters.
In what he calls it a “filching” attempt, Sanders says, “A person or entity (was) representing himself as USDA and they were sending out fax messages to various producers in a four-state area, trying to obtain financial information from the producers.”
Sanders encourages farmers anywhere who got similar suspicious faxes to report it to their nearest FSA office. He’s seen one, in person.
“A producer did receive a fax message and they brought it in to our office,” he says. “From a cursory view, it appeared to be a ficticious memo and a request for information. We are forwarding those requests that we receive to our office of general counsel and the office of inspector general for follow-up.”
The letters bear USDA logo and seal and are signed by an individual identified as Frank Rutenberg using a title of Senior Procurement Officer. Sanders says the letter is asking the individuals for financial information.
“There’s a cover memo titled, Authorization to Release Financial Information,” Sanders says. “Basically, it’s a blank form where the producer is to record their business name and what they’re doing business as. They’re asking for bank names, branches, account numbers and tax IDs.”
The faxes were received so far in: Nebraska, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
By Dave Niedfeldt, KWBE, Beatrice