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Fodder scam: 27-year-old man charged with hay fraud targeting drought-affected farmers | Strike Force Woden | UPDATE

Charges: Police at the raid in Sydney on Thursday where the 27-year-old was arrested. Photo: NSW Police

Charges: Police at the raid in Sydney on Thursday where the 27-year-old was arrested. Photo: NSW Police

UPDATE

NSW Police Rural Crime Investigators have charged a 27-year-old man with an alleged scam targeting farmers from drought-affected communities, including the North West and Dubbo.

Earlier this week, Strike Force Woden was established to investigate reports of a man advertising hay bales on social media for a discounted price, taking an initial deposit for the fodder, but not delivering any product.

About 7.40am on Thursday, Strike Force Woden investigators, assisted by Bass Hill Region Enforcement Squad, executed a search warrant at Villawood and arrested the man.

The 27-year-old was taken to Fairfield police station where he was charged with 13 counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception.

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Police will allege in court that the man fraudulently obtained more than $40,000 from 13 victims.

Police received reports of victims in the Oxley, Mid North Coast, the Hunter Valley, the Southern Highlands, the Hills, Nepean, and Port Stephens areas.

Officers also executed three outstanding warrants for fraud and assault offences.

The man was denied bail by police and will front Fairfield Local Court on Friday.

Detective Whiteside said the man was allegedly offering lucerne hay, which because of the ongoing drought conditions is not as readily available and has seen a price increase.

Strike Force Woden was headed by the Rural Crime Prevention team involving investigators from Lismore, Tamworth, Parkes, Muswellbrook, Windsor, and a number of areas in between.

Detective Whiteside said police would allege that the person before the court has taken advantage of this situation and facilitated a number of contacts with people that were vulnerable.

"And they (the victims) parted with sums of cash, which the hay has not been delivered in this point in time," he said.

EARLIER

NSW Police Rural Crime Investigators have arrested a 27-year-old man over a scam targeting farmers from drought-affected communities, including the North West and Dubbo.

Earlier this week, Strike Force Woden was established to investigate reports of a man advertising hay bales on social media for a discounted price, taking an initial deposit for the fodder, but not delivering any product.

About 7.40am Thursday, Strike Force Woden investigators, assisted by Bass Hill Region Enforcement Squad, executed a search warrant at Villawood and arrested the man.

Police received reports of victims in the Mid North Coast, the Hunter Valley, the Southern Highlands, the Hills, and the Oxley, Nepean, and Port Stephens areas.

READ ALSO:

He was taken to Fairfield Police Station, where he is expected to be charged, police said.

Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside of the Rural Crime Prevention team said police initially uncovered nine victims from NSW, with the financial loss in excess of $30,000.

"But it's been climbing since that date, a figure that was a couple of days ago, since that time we've uncovered further alleged victims in NSW, but also one interstate in Queensland," Detective White said.

Police initially uncovered a number of offences in the last month, but more people have come forward with information of a similar nature that goes back as far as five months ago, Detective White said.

The Rural Crime Prevention team leader encouraged people who may have been contacted by anyone in respect to online rural fraud to contact their local police.

Hay fraud: Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside of the Rural Crime Prevention team addressing the media on Thursday. Photo: Taylor Jurd.

Hay fraud: Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside of the Rural Crime Prevention team addressing the media on Thursday. Photo: Taylor Jurd.

"While the person has been arrested, the investigation is very much ongoing and please don't be embarrassed by the fact that you may have parted with money or fell to this scam," Detective Whiteside said.

"The reason scams work is because they genuinely appear real ... that coupled with the fact that you may be vulnerable is a recipe that may make you depart with you money."

Detective Whiteside said these fraud allegations had hit a new low level.

"We are on the back of a drought that is ongoing, bushfires and now the vulnerable people on our rural communities have now been taken advantage of ...," he said

Detective Whiteside said the man was offering lucerne hay, which because of the ongoing drought conditions is not as readily available and has seen a price increase.

Strike Force Woden was headed by the Rural Crime Prevention team at Lismore and involved Rural Crime Investigators from Parkes, Muswellbrook, Windsor, Tamworth and a number of areas in between.

Detective Whiteside said police would allege that the person before the court has taken advantage of this situation and facilitated a number of contacts with people that were vulnerable.

"And they (the victims) parted with sums of cash, which the hay has not been delivered in this point in time," he said.