Friday, 17 December 2010

Scrooge swindles £4,000 off pensioner

See this week's County Down Spectator for more information about a Holywood Pensioner was defrauded of £4,000 by a rogue builder.

I am disgusted that a bogus caller visited this older local resident and defrauded her of thousands pounds under the guise he was a builder


I was recently made aware of this incident and feel it's important that people across North Down are made aware. People should be wary of cold callers appearing on their doorstep and should always ask to see identification in order to verify their identity. If in doubt ring the police. Professional builders will never appear on your doorstep with horror stories and looking for cash to fix the alleged problems.

I would call on anyone else who has been visited by similar cold callers posing as builders wishing to undertake work to let the police know so we can hopefully catch the culprit.

Police advice is detailed below;

Superintendent Karen Baxter confirmed that local police were investigating this incident as a potential case of ‘Rogue Trading’ and appealed for anyone with any information to contact them.
The Superintendent explained that “Rogue Trading incidents are where consumers have been ’cold called’ by trades persons and then deliberately overcharging for unsatisfactory goods and/or services. It can include charging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately in order to obtain money, leaving work unfinished and intimidating behaviour in order to extort money.  It is known that the offenders travel large distances to commit crime and some of the teams exchange information with distraction burglars.”
She added ‘Rogue Traders are often organised crime groups who prey on vulnerable members of the community. They offer household property services such as clearing gutters, building, and tarmacing as a method to obtain as much money from their victim as possible’.
Superintendent Baxter recognised that the majority of trades people provided a very good service and explained that to satisfy themselves that trades people are genuine prospective clients should ask to see identification and references that can show the quality of their work. She went on to say that ‘where anyone purchases work over £35 they are entitled to a written notice explaining their right to cancel within 7 days, again a genuine traders will have no issues with providing this’. 
“The public should also be aware of bogus callers who depend on the good nature and good will of others. They tend to target the more vulnerable members of our society and in particular senior citizens. Everyone should be cautious of unexpected callers at their home. Our advice is very straightforward. 
“Think before you open the door - use your chain and spy hole or look out of the window to see if you recognise them. Do not open the door unless you know the individual.
“Ask callers for proof of identity. Genuine tradesmen should carry a photographic identification card. Check this carefully. If you are unsure, telephone QuickCheck on 0800 013 22 90.
“The call is free and will be answered by a trained operator. They will take the details of the company, which the caller claims to be visiting on behalf of, then contact the organisation to determine if the caller is genuine. If there is anything suspicious the operator will contact the police directly.”
Everyone should follow this advice when dealing with unexpected visitors:
• Before answering your door, ensure your back door is locked.
• Think before you open the door - use your chain and spy hole or look out of the window to see if you recognise them. 
• Ask callers for proof of identity. Genuine tradesmen should carry a photographic identification card. Check this carefully. If you are unsure, telephone QuickCheck on 0800 013 22 90.
• Beware of callers who attempt to distract you by claiming that they have seen something untoward in your rear garden or somewhere that may encourage you to leave your house - they may have an accomplice who is waiting to act upon this distraction. 
• If you are not convinced of the identity of the caller, don’t let them in. Ask the caller to come back later and arrange for a friend, relative or neighbour to be present on their return. 
Police urge householders to follow some common sense crime prevention measures to ensure that they will not become an opportunist burglar’s next victim. Reassessing your crime prevention routine is an important first step. Ensure your windows are locked as well as doors and make use of security lighting and alarms. Police would also advise householders to not keep large sums of money in the house. 
Anyone who would like further crime prevention advice on this or any other subject should contact their local police on 0845 600 8000  or speak directly with their local neighbourhood officer. Anyone with information about bogus callers or who witnesses any suspicious activity should also contact police.



No comments: