Rogue workers conned an elderly man out of his £2,500 savings and tried to persuade him to transfer ownership of his house to them, Walsall police and the council’s trading standards officers have reported.
Three men in a white van targeted the Pelsall pensioner over two days last month (June 2012), offering gardening services and pest control.
Police and trading standards say there has been an increase in these type of incidents over the last month with rogue traders offering roof restoration, pressure washing, chemical treatment, gardening and pest control services.
They pressurise their victims, who all appear to be over the age of 80, and in many cases they have handed over large sums of money for unnecessary work.
In the Pelsall case, the elderly victim paid three men money for a small amount of gardening and to deal with a rat infestation that they told him he had in the garden. They also tried to persuade him to transfer ownership of his home to them.
Meanwhile an 84-year-old man in Blakenall handed over £25 to two men posing as WHG callers, who also had a white van.
And a 93-year-old woman in Shire Oak was persuaded to let a male cold caller into her home who said he wanted to cut a tree down.
Condemning the criminals, Councillor Zahid Ali, Walsall Council Coalition’s portfolio holder for Public Protection,said, “Honest traders have nothing to fear – we are issuing a warning about rogue traders.
“We are advising people that if they need garden work doing, trees cutting down or repairs made to their home they should always obtain several written quotes from reputable firms and not be intimidated by cold callers.
“There is a list of businesses in the home improvement sector online at www.traderregister.org.uk/walsall or they can call 01922 652246 and our staff will search the Walsall Trader Register on their behalf.
“If in doubt discuss plans with a family member and never allow anyone into your house or pay them money if you have not asked for work to be done. Reputable organisations such as WHG would not charge for any work that was necessary at a tenant’s home.
“The people responsible for stealing from our respected senior citizens are the people who are quite frankly the disease in our society. We will hunt these people down and prosecute them to the full letter of the law.”
Walsall police are working closely with trading standards to protect the public and honest businesses operating in the local community from rogue traders and illegal practises following this increase in reports over the last month.
As part of this continued work, officers are asking members of the public to follow some simple crime prevention advice before agreeing to have work done at their homes.
Officers are reminding people not to hand over large amounts of cash upfront or be pressurised into having work done by doorstep traders.
Community partnerships officer, Kevin Pitt, said: “Rogue traders can sometimes try to convince you that an unnecessary job needs doing. They can then use pressure and intimidation to extract large sums of money in advance of the work being completed.”
For more information on home security, visit: www.west-midlands.police.uk/saferhomes