Timber fraud on the increase in South Carolina, impacting on state's US$17B a year industry

LOS ANGELES , October 14, 2011 () – Both the numbers of cases of timber fraud and the amounts involved are rising in South Carolina, and taking a toll on the state's US$17 billion a year timber industry, said a top official in forestry law enforcement, WACH-TV reported Oct. 12.

Landowners are signing contracts for amounts below the value of timber on their land, and some are not being paid at all, according to the article carried on midlandsconnect.com.

The number of cases of timber theft and fraud this year is higher than last year's, said David West, chief of law enforcement for the South Carolina Forestry Commission, reported WACH.
Typically, the commission investigates more than 200 such cases a year.

The report suggested the poor economy might be driving some timberland owners to make quick money.

West said the amounts involved have risen to up to $49,000, whereas in the past they had declined to $4,000 to $5,000. He advised landowners to know the value of what they are selling and monitor market movements, noting that some have signed contracts for $2 a ton, WACH reported.

Earlier in October, a timber harvester was charged with failure to pay a landowner for wood removed, and the Forestry Commission expects more victims to come forward.

The primary source of this article is WACH-TV, Columbia, South Carolina, on Oct. 10, 2011.

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