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Days of the handshake deal are long gone

Jaclyn Wilson

Jaclyn Wilson

I got scammed this month. I guess it was probably going to happen at sometime, as it seems there are more and more scams occurring all the time. There’s a nice, toasty hot place for those that spend their life trying to swindle others.

I received a text message from a long-time client that had someone looking for a couple 2-year-old bulls. If it was someone reaching out to me directly I would have gone about it in a different way, but when clients get involved I usually try not to question much. I texted the guy and said I heard you were looking for some bulls.

Long story short, he ended up deciding to purchase two bulls and was going to send a cashiers check in the mail. His back story was that he had just purchased a farm in southwestern Nebraska and was getting everything moved there. He had a cargo company that was bringing a thoroughbred stallion out, and if it worked out he was going to have them swing up to the ranch and grab those bulls when the stud was being delivered. I just needed to make sure that they were ready to go.

The check showed up a couple of days later, and was for about $3,000 more than the asking price. It took me a bit to figure out what the check was even for, but right around the same time the guy (who went by James) had texted to say that he received a delivery notice and just wanted to make sure that I had received it.

I called him to discuss the amount of the check, and he said that he was just going to have me deal with the transport costs, that way I could organize the time and day with the company. James said he was new to the cattle business when I said it would have been a lot easier to just have me deliver or to meet instead. I told him he was getting ripped off paying that much for delivery (which I guess is kind of funny now since I was the one getting ripped off).

I reached out to the transport company, and they sent me an invoice for the amount due then they would schedule pickup. It looked about as legit as it could – nice website, decent communication, they asked the right questions about the cattle. I went ahead and paid the $2,900 for delivery and told them I’d be in touch once the bulls were tested and guaranteed to go.

Meanwhile, James was so pleased with how helpful I was being, he asked if I had any heifers for sell, either open or bred. I said I actually had some Simmental yearling heifers available, and he was so excited upon receiving the data on them that he asked if I could add one of those to the load and he’d be sending another check. Meanwhile, he had gotten some of the fencing done on his new farm in Stratton and the pasture was finally ready for the new arrivals.

I ran the bulls into the clinic before I left for Colombia, and went ahead and got them tested and brand inspected. James was pleased to hear that they all passed with flying colors. I told him that I was going to be gone that week, and he was OK to schedule transport for them when I get back. He also said the other check was in the mail and it included extra to cover the transport of the heifer, along with feed costs for a couple days until the transport company could get there, but if I’d be in contact with the transport company and go ahead and pay them for the delivery on the heifer, we would be good to go. He started to get just a little pushy when I said I will once the check shows up.

I still wasn’t thinking anything was unusual, just assuming he was some guy getting into the cow business who had a California attitude.

I was on my way to the airport when I received a notice that the first check had bounced. I reached out to my bank and asked if they could look into it then texted James. He called right away, as upset as I was and said that another would be issued right away from a different account.

That check was overnighted and arrived the following day. I told the Boss Man to drop it off at the bank as I wanted to see if it was going to bounce before I did anything further. Low and behold it did also.

After a couple nasty text messages, I realized that I might have been duped when I tried to reach out to James and the phone had been disconnected. I shot a text to the transport company. No response, so I pulled up their website, and guess what other number had been disconnected? I reached out to my client and asked if he even knew the guy, and of course he didn’t – it was just someone who had reached out to him.

Moral of the story, the team did a lot of work for their $2,900. I almost give them props for the effort and research that they did. On the other side, I hope they realize how much it made my dislike of certain types of individuals go even further south, and it will definitely continue to change how I do business.

As much as I’d like to do everything on a handshake, those days are long gone, and the world is just a little sadder because of it.

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at This column represents the views of one person and are not necessarily the opinion of the Midwest Messenger.   

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Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at

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