Coulsdon residents are being warned that they are in danger of losing a substantial amount of cash if they fall foul of an old scam that has been reported as resurfacing over the past week.
Croydon Council’s trading standards team has received a number of complaints about groups of suspicious-looking people hanging around Coulsdon town centre and attempting to sell what they claim are televisions from the back of a white Transit-type van.
Additional to the TV rip-off, town residents and shoppers have been targeted by a man, said to have an eastern European accent, selling Apple iPhones on the street.
Officers say that the selling of boxes to people who believe they contain a TV but are soon found to hold nothing but a pile of bricks, or, at best, a broken television, is a scam that surfaces with alarming regularity.
And the bargain-priced iPhones are also often found to be non-functioning or in many cases, stolen from their legitimate owners and sold for a quick profit for the criminals involved, with the proceeds being used to finance further crimes.
Croydon’s trading standards team has previously successfully prosecuted itinerant sellers caught selling broken, shrink-wrapped TVs described as new, from the back of a van in the car park of the Tesco Extra store in Purley.
“The old adage that if something looks too good to be true, it invariably is, is particularly pertinent when applied to the purchase of goods from the back of a van, or from somebody who approaches you on the street.
“In addition to the fact that you never really know what it is you’re buying, when you get it home and find that you’ve bought either broken goods or a pile of rubble, you have absolutely no way of getting your money back.
“The best advice is to firmly say ‘No, thank you’ and walk away. That way, you’ll not feel that you’ve been fooled – and you’ll still have your money in your pocket.”
Anybody approached with the offer of cheap electrical goods is asked to make a note of the seller’s description and as much information about his van, including registration number, as they safely can, and report the matter to the council’s trading standards team on 020 8407 1311.
Alternatively, call the police.