A warning has gone out to be on the alert for suspicious cold callers, particularly those who target vulnerable elderly people.
Fraudsters pretending to be salesmen, builders, gardeners or other tradespeople set out to convince householders that their home or garden requires urgent maintenance. Expect them to be charming and very believable, having answers to all of your questions.
They will try to pressurise you into a quick decision to allow work to be carried out for a ‘special cash price’.
Operation Repeat explains it is common for a price of £50 to be mentioned to re-tarmac a driveway, only for this price to escalate to £50 per square yard! Ten square yards — “£500 cash please, NOW”.
The organisation say that once a payment has been made in cash the fraudsters will return with other ruses or they will trade the person’s details on.
“Rarely will a person who has paid cash to fraudsters be targeted only once.
While sometimes referred to as ‘cowboy’ builders’ these criminals will offer no cancellation paperwork or try to get you to commit to having the work completed there and then and waive your legal rights.”
l Do not deal with cold callers.
l Do not pay cash on the doorstep.
l Do not employ passing workmen.
l Call the police if uninvited callers will not leave.
Thieves don’t need to break into your home if they think they can knock on the door and get invited in! Operation Repeat says: “Distraction burglars normally work in pairs and while one distracts the householder the other will sneak in, do a quick search and take anything of value they come across. These criminals will use any excuse to gain entry, often pretending to be an official from a utility company, social services, trading standards or even the police and recently females pretending to be pregnant and in need of a glass of water and a sit down”.
Distraction burglars can be anyone, including women and children. They may be smartly dressed or in clothing relevant to the organisation they pretend to represent.
Here are some typical things they say:
l There’s a water leak next door and I need to check your pipes.
l I need to check your pipes as the water may be unfit to drink.
l We’re laying pipes next door and the pipe goes under your garden.
l I’ve run out of petrol can I phone for help.
l My son/daughter needs the toilet/a drink of water.
l I’ve lost my ball/dog/kitten.
Be on your guard
l Keep doors and windows locked.
l Ensure your back door is locked before opening your front door.
l Check who is at the door by using a spyhole or window overlooking the door
l Engage the door chain before opening the door.
l Be aware that identification cards are easily falsified.
l Do not use phone numbers supplied by the caller.
l Remember: Not sure? Don’t open the door!
Visits should be arranged in advance by appointment — all major organisations are working towards this.
If you suspect such an incident has occurred to you, or someone you know, report it to the police immediately.
To report a crime call 101. In an emergency call 999.
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*Operation REPEAT is a project commissioned by Lincolnshire Community Safety Partnership (Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire Police) and Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Trading Standards, and administered by Crime Reduction Enterprise Ltd.
The project has been running for 6 years in Lincolnshire in partnership with Police and Trading Standards Officers, training is given to health and social care workers and volunteers who work with older vulnerable people. They are taught how Doorstep Criminals and Scammers work, how to spot victims of such crimes and what advice to give out to the people they look after to help keep them safe. As people in positions of trust Operation REPEAT understands how important people working in this field, such as Evergreen Care’s staff, are, in getting the correct messages to those most in need.
Simple messages such as ‘NOT SURE DON’T OPEN THE DOOR’ ‘DON’T DEAL WITH COLD CALLERS’ ‘DON’T TALK MONEY ON THE PHONE’ are part of the ethos underpinning the awareness raising to Doorstep Crime & Scams. Messages, Operation REPEAT asks to be REPEATED at every opportunity. At the heart of all the messages is simple EDUCATION to pass onto older vulnerable people.