A Kyeamba man has been charged following an investigation into an alleged multi-million dollar cattle fraud in southwest NSW.
Led by the NSW Police Rural Crime Prevention Unit, Strike Force Seger was formed in April 2019 to investigate suspected cattle fraud in the Riverina region.
The fraud, which investigators will allege is in excess of $2.5 million, involves the alleged fraudulent sale and trading of cattle.
NSW rural crime officers, assisted by Riverina Police District, executed a search warrant at a rural property in Kyeamba, 54km southeast of Wagga Wagga, on Tuesday, 17 December, 2019.
The search warrant continued over several days with rural investigators seizing computers and documents. More than 400 Angus cows and calves were also examined.
Following extensive investigation, a 45-year-old man from Kyeamba was arrested at Wagga Wagga Police Station on Wednesday, 8 April, 2020.
The man was charged with eight counts of fraud and is due to face Wagga Wagga Local Court on Wednesday, 24 June, 2020.
Police will allege the man entered into joint business ventures with farmers and on-sold cattle that either did not exist, were deceased prior to purchase or had been on-sold without the farmers’ knowledge.
Riverina Police District Commander, Superintendent Bob Noble, said local farm owners have been devastated in recent times without the stress of being victims of fraudulent activity.
“Our farming community is suffering at the moment with recent droughts and bushfires so to go through loss of stock on top of that is devastating,” he said.
“Our Rural Crime Prevention team and local police have been working tirelessly during the course of this investigation to recover stock and work through documentation we will allege is related to fraudulent activity.
“We will continue to target and combat crime in all its forms.”
State Rural Crime Coordinator, Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside, said the arrest is the culmination of diligent work by local police and rural crime investigators.
“Strike Force Seger is a complex and significant investigation coordinated by the Rural Crime Prevention team, and it highlights we are open for business during these difficult times,” he said.
“We urge the rest of the farming community to speak up if you’ve been affected by a crime such as this, and to report any suspicious behaviour.”
Since 2002, there has been a 94 per cent increase in the number of dedicated and specialised police employees targeting rural crime.
More than 50 separate operations have been conducted and/or coordinated by members of the Rural Crime Prevention Unit relating to confiscation of offenders’ vehicles, hunting equipment and firearms; the recovery of stolen firearms; multiple musters; and recovery of livestock.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a similar crime is urged to contact local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.