DYFED-Powys Police is advising the farming community to be extremely wary of any suspicious calls, texts or emails as a scam specifically targeting the agricultural sector has been identified.

During December farmers start to receive payments through the SFP (Single Farm Payment). Information about the payments is publically available, meaning criminals are able to directly target victims making their approaches appear more convincing.

The scam communications will typically claim that fraud has been detected on the farmer’s bank account and that urgent action is required to safeguard funds.

The victim is then persuaded to divulge personal or financial information, or even to transfer money directly into a so-called ‘safe account’.

With some grants worth thousands of pounds, in past years fraudsters have stolen significant amounts of money from their victims.

Paul Callard, Financial Crime Team, Dyfed-Powys Police said: “If you receive such a call or message, hang up the phone and do not reply directly. Instead, wait five minutes and ring your bank to alert them to the scam, using a phone number that you trust – such as the one from the official website.”

An Action Fraud spokesperson added: “If you receive a call about your payment from the government, take your time to stop and think about what is being asked of you. It could protect you and your money. You will never be asked by the Rural Payments Agency or a government or bank official, to reveal your bank account details or make a payment over the phone. If you think you’ve been the victim of a fraud, report it to Action Fraud immediately by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.”

FUW Montgomeryshire County Executive Officer Emyr Wyn Davies said: “Our farming community is an attractive target this time of year for fraud and the consequences of falling into the trap could be financially sever but also cause untold stress and anxiety. We therefore urge farmers to follow the advice given by the police and remain vigilant.”

NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “At this time of year, when the majority of farm businesses will shortly be receiving their BPS payments, it is important that we are all extra vigilant of any suspicious emails or phone calls as fraudsters may try and target farmers.

“Fraud awareness is important all year around, but at this time of year, the BPS payments may attract the attention of fraudsters more so than usual. These payments are vital to the livelihood of many businesses, and it is important that farmers are fully aware that there are criminals out there who may try and take advantage of their good nature.

“Fraudsters can try and obtain passwords for bank accounts, or even try and trick you into making payments into different bank accounts. It is this kind of deception that we need to be extremely careful of.”