Bogus council officers pick on vulnerable residents

 

Targeted by cowboy roofers in 2013, a Kenley resident has been telephoned by a man claiming to be part of Croydon Council’s trading standards team and asking for cash in order that compensation can be paid.

The case has alarming similarities to earlier instances of criminals attempting to con people out of large sums of money by posing as council officials.

In a bid to prevent further such callous cons, the trading standards team is issuing a double-barrelled warning for residents across the borough:

  • don’t employ cold-calling traders; and
  • don’t hand over cash to anybody claiming to be a council officer.

The Kenley householder was previously conned out of more than £18,000 by doorstep cold callers who carried out sub-standard roofing work without providing any of the legally required paperwork, and asking to be paid in cash.

Earlier this month, he was telephoned by a man posing as a trading standards officer (TSO). Using the name Graham Mellows, the caller said that the building firm had been in court and that past customers were due compensation. He tried to persuade the resident to pay money that he explained was needed before full compensation could be issued.

The case is one of a series of recently reported similar scams across the UK. Five have been reported in and around London, and there were a further nine in Sussex during April. Different names have been given to the victims by the fraudsters but in each case they pretended to be officials and asked for money. One victim reported losing £170,000.

Residents should be aware that TSOs never ask for money, and any who have previously been ripped off in their home or have recently had building repairs carried out, need to be particularly cautious.

Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice

“This is doorstep crime – and extremely serious. Posing as a trusted official in order to con money out of somebody makes it even more offensive.

“Residents should always be cautious of cold callers offering any kind of service and not do business on the doorstep.

“Criminals look to take advantage of the most vulnerable people in our communities which is why we’re calling on friends, relatives, neighbours and carers to stay vigilant and report any suspicions of rogue traders or cold callers.

“It’s known that these criminals share information with each other; for that reason, I’d urge people to be particularly vigilant if they’ve previously been victims of doorstep crime or rogue traders.”

Anybody contacted by a TSO – in person, by telephone or letter – can check their identity by calling Croydon Council’s call centre on 020 8726 6000. Residents should not use any number that the caller presents; they should call only the council number to confirm an officer’s details.

Reputable traders – vetted and approved by independent assessors – can be found via websites such as www.trustmark.org.uk or http://trustedtraders.which.co.uk

Facebooktwittermail



Also in the news...