A householder in Broad Green was saved from being swindled out of £4,000 when an alert bank cashier queried his request to withdraw the money from his account.
Croydon Council’s trading standards team is warning that a scamming team is working in Broad Green and Selhurst, and residents should be wary of uninvited callers offering to carry out work they describe as urgent, particularly following the recent very cold snap, which saw a spate of burst water pipes.
The rogue traders called at the house, claiming that, while were working on the neighbour’s roof, they had discovered that water was getting into the property from next door, and they were keen to investigate the cause.
With the householder’s permission, they went up into the loft to look at the roof from the inside. They claimed there was a hole in the roof where a number of tiles had become dislodged.
He pointed out that he had not seen any damp patches, water stains or evidence of leaks in the roof, despite recent wet weather. He was told that the wooden rafters were rotten, causing the tiles to come loose, and it would cost £10,000 to replace the roof.
Alarmed, he agreed to the work, and was told that he would have to hand over a deposit of £4,000 before a start could be made. It was while the householder was withdrawing the cash that the bank worker’s suspicions were aroused.
The trading standards team and police were alerted, and enquiries are ongoing.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities and safety, said: “This was a close call for this particular resident, and it’s thanks to the quick thinking of bank staff that he didn’t lose thousands of pounds.
“And lose it he probably would have, as it’s very likely that, after he’d handed over the cash, he would never see those cold callers again.
“I’d urge everybody to follow the advice of our trading standards team and, if you have an elderly or vulnerable relative or neighbour, be vigilant and keep an eye open for the possibility of rogue traders seeking to take advantage of their situation.”
The council’s trading standards team has the following tips for householders.
• invite cold callers into your home;
• believe that work claimed by cold callers is urgent or necessary; and
• never allow yourself to be taken to the bank by a trader to withdraw cash.
• obtain several written quotes or estimates before any work is undertaken, and obtain a breakdown of costs;
• look out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours; and
• report it – if an incident is happening, and you are concerned, call the police on 999, and trading standards on 020 8407 1311. If not urgent, call the police non-emergency number 101, and the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.