Once bitten, conned householder is twice shy

 

Repeated scam attempts have been made on a householder after he was conned out of £15,000 for shoddy roof repairs.

The 60-year-old Waddon resident was initially called upon in 2014 by somebody claiming to be a roofer and offering to repair tiles that he said were loose. Fearing a scam, the householder called the council’s trading standards team. Officers arranged for a legitimate inspection of the roof, which was found to be in overall good repair, and confirmed the visit had been an attempted scam.

Early last year, the householder discovered a leak in his roof and, following the recommendation of “a friend of a friend” arranged for a team of roofers to effect repairs. Once started, they informed him that work was also required to the chimney stack and that the guttering needed to be replaced. He agreed they should do the work, as they were already in place, and paid them £15,000. He was dismayed to find, within a few months, that the leak had not been repaired.

In recent weeks, the householder has received a number of phone calls, attempting to pressure him into parting with more money. He has also had a doorstep visit from a man asking for his name and phone number, and saying that he would receive a call to speak about the work done to his roof.

A subsequent phone call, from somebody claiming to be a police officer based at Twickenham law courts and investigating the roofing works, claimed that the householder had been awarded a refund.

Not to be caught a second time, he called the trading standards team who advised that such follow-up calls were a common ploy to extract more cash from previous scam victims. The conmen will often call, months or even a couple of years after the event, and claim to be a trading standards or police officer. They say they are investigating the traders who carried out the work, and that the victim may be due compensation.

It is then suggested that the victim sends their money to the bogus callers, in order to receive more compensation by showing the court that their bank account is empty. In reality, once they have parted with their money, they will never hear from the callers again – and find they have been stung twice.

Neither trading standards nor police officers would ask a resident to part with their money. Any such request is a sure sign that the caller, be they on the phone or the doorstep, is a rogue trader attempting to part a potential victim from their cash.

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

“This case shows that even the careful can be caught out by these skilled conmen.

“This resident had previously suspected a scam and done the right thing by calling our trading standards team. Despite that, however, he later fell victim to rogue roofers and was taken for £15,000.

“Thankfully, he’s learned his lesson and he took advice from our officers before being caught a second time.

“Always ask for the full name and position of the person you are speaking to, and, if in doubt, put down the phone and check their credentials, or ask a friend or relative to do so for you.”

Report any suspicious callers to the police on 101, or the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.

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