Residents are being warned by the council’s trading standards team to be alert to cold callers demanding money for “urgent” roof repairs.
The scam has come to light this week after one elderly female victim, from the Park Hill area, received such a call when a man knocked at her front door claiming that the roof of her next-door neighbour was in urgent need of repair, requiring scaffolding to be erected.
A short while later, the resident received a phone call from a man calling himself David. He claimed that her roof, too, was in need of urgent work, and that a cash down-payment was required to erect the scaffolding to enable the work to begin.
His manner was extremely persuasive, and he gave what seemed to be plausible detail as to the condition of the two rooves and the work required to repair them. He convinced the householder to withdraw £2,000 from her bank, which she handed to the original man when he returned to her home a short time later.
Her suspicions were aroused when a further £4,000 was demanded in a second phone call from “David”. Before withdrawing the cash, she spoke to her neighbour and was told that he had arranged no repairs to his roof and knew nothing about the situation.
Alarmed, she called the police who, in turn, notified the trading standards team. She was advised not to proceed and certainly not to hand over any more money.
The incident is being investigated by the police and trading standards.
Andy Opie, the council’s director of safety, said: “This was a nasty attempt to part a trusting older resident with thousands of pounds of her life savings. Thankfully, she realised that something wasn’t quite right and the attempt to get more money from her failed.
“I’d urge all residents to be aware that cold-hearted fraudsters like this are operating locally, and say that, under no circumstances should they be persuaded by cold callers to hand over any sort of payment whatsoever, be it cash, cheque or money transfer.
“The chances are that, once handed over, the money will never be seen again.”