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Modern-Day Rustlers Wrangle Millions of Dollars From Texas Ranchers

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In another instance, an entire cattle company was created out of thin air by an agent working for a cattle brokerage firm in Nebraska. He told the brokerage firm he had met a cattle buyer out of Fort Worth with deep pockets. After his creative work specifying the funds needed to keep up with the buyer, the firm turned over a company checkbook to the agent, giving him the freedom to keep making deals. In a six-month window, the hustler had purchased and sold $90 million in cattle while check-kiting. This scheme fell through when a check bounced for $5 million, which was made out to the brokerage firm. Following an investigation, it was determined the Fort Worth cattle buyer and his deep pockets were completely fictitious. One year following the indictment of the “rustler,” the Nebraska cattle brokerage firm he worked for had to close its doors. He was sentenced to a decade in federal prison, in addition to restitution of $28 million, following criminal and civil actions.

Modern-Day Rustlers Wrangle Millions of Dollars From Texas Ranchers

Photo: Army University Press

An agricultural economist, David Anderson performs research at Texas A&M University focusing on food products and livestock. He points to the recent drought in Texas as a contributing factor for the rise in white-collar crime such as these examples in the cattle industry. From 2011 through 2014, Texas ranchers saw their pastureland completely scorched. This resulted in the sale of entire herds and the subsequent drop in cattle prices. As the drought subsided, the demand rose drastically to record high cattle prices in 2015. Those wanting to restock their herds began taking loans to purchase cattle at these inflated prices. When the market stabilized a year later, the ranchers were left holding the financial bag, so-to-speak, paying loans valued far higher than the herds their loans had purchased. Some of them defaulted, at which time the banks would call in cattle rangers such as Bradshaw when it was suspected that the seizure of the collateral would be met with reluctance by the struggling ranchers.

Modern-Day Rustlers Wrangle Millions of Dollars From Texas Ranchers
Photo: Wikimedia