A man has been charged following an investigation into an alleged multi-million dollar cattle fraud in the state’s south west.
Led by the 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.
Last year, officers from the Rural Crime Prevention Unit, assisted by Riverina Police District, executed a search warrant at a rural property in Kyeamba near Wagga Wagga on Tuesday 17 December 2019.
The search warrant continued over several days, with investigators seizing computers, documentation and a number of angus cows and calves for examination.
More than 400 angus cows and calves were inspected by rural crime investigators.
Following extensive investigations, a 45-year-old man was arrested at Wagga Wagga Police Station yesterday (Wednesday 8 April 2020).
The Kyeamba 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, was deceased prior to purchase or had been on-sold without their knowledge.
Riverina Police District Commander, Superintendent Bob Noble said local farm owners have been devastated in recent times.
“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,” Superintendent Noble 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 great 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 highlights we are open for business during these difficult times,” Detective Inspector Whiteside said.
“We urge the rest of the farming community to speak up if you’ve been affected by a crime such as this and 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 Team, relating to confiscation of offender’s vehicles, hunting equipment and firearms; recovery of stolen firearms; multiple musters and recovery of livestock.
Anyone who believes they may be victim to a similar crime is urged to contact local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.