A quote for clearing the guttering of an elderly man’s Norbury home quickly escalated to the point where he handed over £27,000 in cash to a bogus company operating from a central London accommodation address.
Croydon Council’s trading standards department is warning residents to beware of what appears to be a reputable company called Kings Home Improvements Ltd that states its address as being 2 London Bridge Walk, London SE1 2SX.
The scam came to light when the vulnerable 84-year-old was talked into full replacement of the gutters and improvement of the loft space by replacing the joists and putting down boards to provide a safe walking surface.
The company representative left an impressive calling card, detailing the services offered by his firm, phone numbers, and website and email addresses.
The company twice failed to turn up on agreed dates to start the work, and, upon reflection, the householder decided that, as he very rarely went up into the loft, he would cancel the upgrade. He expected a large refund from the £27,000 he had handed over.
The company then claimed it had paid £7,000 tax for materials bought to do the work and demanded reimbursement of that sum from him, assuring him that he would be able to claim it from the tax office.
He did not hand over the requested £7,000 but neither did he receive the refund he expected.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“This is a truly dreadful case of heartless rogues taking a vulnerable older man, who has no immediate family, for everything they could.
“It’s probably too late for this victim, who’s unlikely to have his money returned, but I’d warn everyone else to be aware of this scam, and be wary of anyone offering household repairs or building work and claiming to work for this company.
“It’s important to remember that the Kings Home Improvements Ltd that claims to be based at 2 London Bridge Walk has no links to other companies with the same or a similar name.”
Three things that residents can do if they suspect they are the target of a scam.
- Get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk or by calling 03454 040506.
- Report scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. Reporting can help prevent it happening to others. If debit cards, online banking or cheques are involved in the scam, the consumer’s first step should be to contact their bank or card company.
- Tell family, friends and neighbours, so that they are aware and can avoid scams.