Ranchers target of phone scam | SteamboatToday.com

Ranchers target of phone scam

Extension office issues warning about pesticide solicitors

Susan Cunningham

— People who receive phone solicitations from someone trying to sell pesticides should beware, said Routt County Extension Services Director C.J. Mucklow.

In the past three days, the extension office has received five calls from Routt County residents saying a person has tried to sell them pesticides over the phone. The person will not give a callback number and will not fax or mail a copy of the label or describe what the pesticide’s active ingredients are.

The caller does, however, say that the chemical can kill everything except grass, alfalfa and clover, and that it only needs to be applied once every five years to be effective.

It sounds too good to be true because it is, Mucklow said. No herbicide could kill everything except grass, alfalfa and clover — it would either harm them all or harm at least one.

“It’s very seductive. It’s very well done,” Mucklow said about the telephone solicitor’s pitch. “They are very slick telemarketers.

“I don’t know how they get people’s names. And they call at early times in the morning and evening.”

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That means the caller is aware that most farmers and ranchers are out all day, so only answer the phone when it’s early or late.

This spring, there were about half a dozen calls to the extension office about the same thing, Mucklow said. As it turned out, that caller was trying to sell a restricted-use chemical that buyers usually must have a license to purchase. The active ingredient in that product was Prometon, which sterilizes soil and moves easily through soil.

“My past experience has always been that we finally find out the information on the active ingredient and that (the chemicals) are at inflated prices and less quality,” Mucklow said.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture also issued warnings about phone solicitations for pesticide sales.

Mucklow said the best advice for people who receive such calls is to simply not buy the products.

“If you can’t see a label and you don’t know what the active ingredient is and you can’t get a number, don’t buy it over the phone,” Mucklow said.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com