Nearly 30,000 missing cows makes the story you’re about hear potentially one of the biggest fraud cases in the state and it may all come down to one Corsica farmer. KELOLAND News was there as the case unfolded in civil on Wednesday; we track down the man who everyone wants answers from in this KELOLAND News investigation.
The Douglas County Courthouse had to make special preparations for a civil case involving at least 53 people who say they are out millions of dollars in what’s being called a “cattle Ponzi scheme.“ There are some 30,000 phantom cattle involved and the bank says it’s owed more than $7 million. 35 lawyers filed in through the doors on Wednesday.
One by one, people who did business with Bob Blom filed into the courtroom. Most are claiming ownership of the same cows, all hoping to recover millions of dollars lost when the Corsica farmer bounced checks to First Dakota National Bank to the tune of $1 million and defaulted on a $7 million loan.
“A cattle Ponzi scheme; I mean that is what it looks like,“ Curt Plamp said.
Brothers Curt and Corey Plamp say they’re out $1 million–each.
“So now, everything I’ve worked for in my life is down the tubes. I’ve worked tooth and nail to give to my kids like everybody else does. And now I have to tell my boys, ‘There ain’t going to be nothing left,’“ Curt Plamp said.
It’s not only the loss of money that has devastated the Plamps; it’s the broken trust.
“How can any one man have no conscious of what he’s doing to family and friends? There are friends down there that have been Bob’s friends all his life,“ Curt Plamp said.
“I thought the world of Bob,” Corey Plamp said.
“So did I,” Curt Plamp said.
“A lot of people did. That’s why I just cannot believe the man did this,“ Corey Plamp said.
The court-appointed receiver investigating the case says here’s how Blom’s scheme worked. He would acquire a certain number of cattle and sell interest in that cattle to a buyer and another buyer; as many as eight buyers for the same group of cattle and none of them knew at all about it.
“We’re buying ghost cattle is what we’re buying. And he’s done it to us and he’s done it to everybody down there,“ Curt Plamp said.
“I’d just like to ask him why and what his motive was and why did he do this to so many people,“ Corey Plamp said.
While Blom didn’t show up for court to answer those questions, we were able to track him down at home.
Angela Kennecke: I’m Angela Kennecke from KELO-TV.
Blom: No comment.
Kennecke: Can I ask you about what happened to the money?
Blom: No comment.
Kennecke: Your neighbors, your relatives say they are out millions of dollars. What happened to the money, Bob?
Blom’s son did tell the judge his father had recently been released from a facility in Canton.
Blom was charged with drunk driving on February 5, 2019 after the civil case was filed. The Aurora County Sheriff was called to the scene of a crash involving a semi and a pickup on Highway 281 just south of I-90.
A report says Blom was driving the pickup and his blood alcohol level was .09. A witness reported that he pulled right in front of the semi-truck. His family told the sheriff that Blom had told them they would be better off without him being around.
His accusers say they want him around for answers. The investigator in the civil case testified that he was following the missing money and had a lead to where some of it may be in a secret bank account.
Blom is currently not facing any criminal charges in the cattle case.
KELOLAND Investigates uncovered that Blom was indicted back in 1997 for making a false statement regarding cattle he did not own, but said he did to a bank. Federal Court records show he spent one day in jail and got four years’ probation.
Judge Bruce Anderson ordered on Wednesday that the remaining cattle in the lots be inventoried and said people could enter a claim along with documentation. Twenty days later, the cattle are to be sold.