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Elderly targeted by scammers in Bucks

One man was conned out of £20,000 while his wife was in hospital.

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul with contributions by Local Democracy Reporter Oliver Sirrell at 5:50am 21st May 2020. 3-minute read.

Elderly targeted by scammers in Bucks

People in Buckinghamshire have fallen victim to 'heartless' scams worth tens of thousands of pounds since lockdown restrictions were eased.

This includes one elderly resident who was scammed out of £20,000 while his wife was being treated in hospital for coronavirus.

Fraudsters took the cash from the man after initially offering to clean his gutters for £15.

A family member raised the alarm on the scammers after they asked for another £20,000 having told the man his roof tiles needed urgent attention.

Another fraudster conned a Bucks resident out of £50,000 for ‘fixing’ a loose chimney and other roof work that ‘didn’t need doing’.

This came to light after the resident’s bank raised an alert over the huge amount being withdrawn.

Fred Wilson, Buckinghamshire Council boss for Regulatory Services, said:

“I’m urging residents to be very, very wary about responding to cold-callers on the doorstep.

“These rogues target the elderly or vulnerable and pressure them to start work immediately.

“Once they’ve started the price rockets and they clear off once they’ve been paid, leaving the work half done and the resident bewildered and traumatised.

“Our Trading Standards officers work hard to catch these criminals, and fortunately we have ears and eyes of a fantastic number of people in our Street Associations around the county who look out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours, watching out for scammers.

“I’d encourage everyone to keep a weather eye at this time.”

A third incident saw two cold-callers approach a resident explaining they could do work as they were exempt from restrictions.

Fortunately, the resident suspected something was wrong and asked the fraudsters to leave.

All three incidents are being urgently investigated by Buckinghamshire and Surrey trading standards with Thames Valley Police.

In the past two years Trading Standards have investigated 120 reports of doorstep crimes across the county.

Trading Standards chiefs are anticipating a surge in the number of cold-callers and rogue traders on the doorstep as lockdown eases and the weather improves.

The organisation’s advice to residents approached by the fraudsters is to say ‘ no thank you — please leave’ and then close the door.

Residents could also call police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

Trading Standards can be reached via the Citizens’ Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.

For work that needs doing, Trading Standards recommends residents use a legitimate business such as those listed at the Trading Standards-approved trader scheme www.traders4u.co.uk

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