A warning has been issued by Croydon Council’s trading standards team alerting people to a conman masquerading as a tree surgeon and demanding cash for a favour he claims to have done.
The team has learned that a man went to a house in Purley last week (20 July) and told the resident that he had noticed a large branch fall from one of the householder’s trees, landing across the adjacent footpath and causing an obstruction.
He claimed that he was a tree surgeon and, in order to clear the obstruction, had cut the branch into manageable lengths and removed them. He followed the news of his good deed with the suggestion the householder pay him a token gesture of £120.
Refusing to hand over the cash, the resident first contacted a trusted tree surgeon – who could find no evidence of a fallen branch – and then the police, informing them of the attempted fraud.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“The sheer effrontery of some con artists never fails to amaze. The resident in this case did exactly the right thing in refusing to pay for work that he hadn’t commissioned.
“Sadly, there are residents who are susceptible to this sort of approach, They take the story at face value and, grateful that a good Samaritan has come to their aid, hand over the money.
“It can’t be said often enough that householders should not entertain cold callers. Anybody turning up unannounced and offering a service that has not been pre-booked should be politely told ‘no thank-you’. And they should never be given money nor personal details – and never allowed into the house.
“Anybody who has been approached in this manner, or suspects they might have fallen victim to a scam, should immediately contact the police or the council’s trading standards department.”
The trading standards team has a limited number of “no cold caller” packs available to Croydon residents. The pack contains advice, information and a sticker, to be displayed on or near the front door, informing salesmen and other cold callers that the householder is not interested in any service they might be offering.
To obtain a pack, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8407 1311.