Police warning about rogue trader's £4,000 trick
Sunday, 26th July 2015
Norfolk Trading Standards' doorstep rogue trader team and Norfolk Police are warning residents to be on their guard following a cold calling incident in Norwich yesterday which nearly saw one elderly householder lose thousands of pounds for work that didn’t need doing.
The Norwich householder answered a knock at the door from a man who claimed that the property’s drains were blocked by tree roots, showing a mobile phone photograph which he claimed was taken at the house and proved there was a problem.
The caller then persuaded the resident to sign a cheque for £3,800 and that he would return later to carry out the work.
After the man left, the resident had second thoughts and contacted a family member who in turn raised the alarm with Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards team and cancelled the cheque.
Officers from Trading Standards and Operation RADAR, Norfolk Constabulary's team dedicated to tackling rural and doorstep crime, visited the resident at their property within one hour of receiving the alert. An investigation has been launched and the team is continuing to provide support and advice to the resident and family.
Dan Roper, Norfolk County Council's Cabinet Member for Public Protection said: “This is a classic example of rogue doorstep trading which, but for the resident’s instinctive sense of unease, could have ended very badly indeed for them. They could have been fleeced out of thousands of pounds of cash for nothing in return.
"Norfolk County Council's Trading Standards team and Norfolk Police are working very hard together to do whatever needs to be done to stop people like this preying on others' fears or vulnerability. So I am delighted that the team was able to mount such a rapid response to yesterday's incident.
"I would encourage anyone who may be worried about unsolicited callers offering services, to step forward and contact us at the earliest opportunity to give us the best possible chance of dealing with them."
Gary Young, Principal Trading Standards officer at Norfolk County Council who heads up Norfolk’s Doorstep Rogue Trader Team said: “Genuine tradesman - who are lawful and trading correctly and looking for work - would never knock on your door and tell you that you have a problem, offer you a service or try and sell you something that appears too good to be true.
“By contrast, a rogue trader's typical modus operandi will be to start off claiming there’s a problem, offering to do work for a low price then increase it, or find further problems that don’t exist in a bid to get even more money out of you.
“Above all never hand over cash there and then, no matter how much of a bargain you think you might be getting. If you need something doing to your home or garden then rely on recommendations or through reputable channels such as Norfolk County Council’s Trusted Trader scheme.”
Detective Sergeant Pete Jessop from Operation RADAR said: “My advice is simple: Do not trade with any person on your doorstep who arrives unannounced and unexpectedly tells you that you need to buy something, or that some kind of work needs doing urgently to your house or garden.
"If this happens, ask yourself 'Why is this person telling me this?' Then politely decline and if you have opened the door, close it. If you are not happy then call us.
“I am also asking that if you have an elderly neighbour, family member or friend who might be a bit forgetful and perhaps a bit too trusting, just give my message to them and remind them to be vigilant.”
The Norfolk Trusted Trader scheme offers a list of accredited traders which have been checked by Trading Standards covering everything from plumbing to gardening. For more information or to see our online directory visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader.
If you are concerned about rogue trader activity contact Trading Standards through our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0845 404 0506 or call Norfolk Police on 101.
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