A Utah man faces charges of fraud and money laundering in connection to an alleged farm equipment scam. The man, Ryan Palmer, reportedly started the scheme in 2017. He could face decades of jail time if he is found guilty on charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering.
Palmer isn’t being held in custody, but he will appear before the US District Court in St. George, Utah, on January 11.
The scheme allegedly involved Palmer telling farm owners he could sell their outdated equipment on consignment. Prosecutors say he introduced himself to farmers as an equipment broker and stated that he could obtain industrial machinery for commercial farms.
Under the company Palmer Equipment LLC, the defendant reportedly sold machinery he claimed to own even when he only had it on consignment from its legal owner. Prosecutors accuse Palmer of selling defective or non-functional machinery, too. In some cases, prosecutors allege, Palmer illegally altered serial numbers or removed information placards from farm equipment to hide evidence of his schemes.
In one instance, prosecutors allege that Palmer accepted a 1985 Allis-Chalmers tractor from a client to sell on consignment. Palmer wrote an agreement with the client that the tractor, valued at $25,000, wouldn’t be sold for less than $20,000.
Palmer and his wife then sought a $51,000 loan from a local credit union and used seven pieces of farm machinery as collateral. In the loan agreement, Palmer claims the Allis-Chalmers tractor is his property. Palmer and his wife disbursed the money across numerous bank accounts after the credit union accepted the loan terms and distributed the funds.
Palmer allegedly sold the Allis-Chalmers tractor two weeks after receiving the loan. The tractor’s original owner alleges that Palmer never paid him anything for the proceeds of this sale, breaching the terms of their consignment agreement.
Prosecutors allege that Palmer committed similar fraudulent exchanges with equipment belonging to 25 victims. Court documents reveal that Palmer is accused of defrauding the claimants of $1.2 million in equipment sales.
Experts urge farm owners to research anyone who offers to sell their equipment on consignment. It’s difficult to discern when sellers are lying about machinery they’re marketing for you. It can take months or years to discover whether the seller is committing fraud. By the time the victims learn about the deceit, the perpetrator may have already spent their ill-gotten gains.