by Ray Paulick
Trainers and bloodstock agents in California, New York and states in the Midwest are being targeted by a telephone con artist who falsely claims to represent a wealthy international businessman interested in retaining them to buy horses on his behalf.
The scam is almost identical to the one reported in the Paulick Report in August 2016. In recent weeks, trainers and bloodstock agents in California, Kentucky and Arkansas confirmed they have been contacted by the individual. The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association posted what it called a “scam alert” on its Facebook page.
The caller, who familiarizes himself with the trainer or bloodstock agent’s successes, claims to represent a wealthy businessman or member of the royal family in Abu Dhabi or Brunei (in 2016, the scam involved someone from India purportedly interested in buying horses). The wealthy individual cited in each case is real but is completely unaware their name is being used in an attempted con.
The caller, who uses different names and spoofs different telephone caller ID numbers, says the businessman would like to set up a call with the trainer or agent to discuss the purchase of specific horses, either in training or public auction. In some cases the call has taken place with a second individual pretending to be the prospective horse buyer, who also shows some knowledge of the trainer or agent’s career and successes.
The follow-up from the original caller specifies that the trainer or agent set up encrypted communications software because of privacy concerns with the buyer. While some would-be victims expressed worry that the communications network would have hacked into their computers and stolen sensitive information, the scam seems more likely to revolve around the $800 to $1,000 the original caller said would need to be wired to a Wells Fargo bank account to purchase the software.
As one trainer said, “That’s a lot of work for someone to steal $1,000.”