19th July 2018

Police appeal after woman, 97, conned out of cash in gutter clearing scam – Taunton

Police have arrested a suspect after a vulnerable 97-year-old woman handed over cash for work on her Taunton home which was never carried out.

Officers were contacted earlier this week with a report of a suspicious man at the property. They attended and found that the lady had paid a man to clear out her guttering and fix loose roof tiles, but that the work had not been done.

A suspect was arrested the same day, Monday 9 July, on suspicion of fraud by false representation and later released under investigation.

Officers are keen to hear from anyone who had a cold caller on that day or who has any other information which could help their enquiries.

You can get in touch through the police website, www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact, or by calling 101, quoting reference 5218151875.

This type of offence is often called ‘Rogue Trading’. It involves unscrupulous traders offering to do work and asking for cash up front, then carrying it out to a poor standard or not at all, doing work unnecessarily, or overcharging.

Though thankfully this doesn’t happen often, it does disproportionately affect older people – who are more likely to be at home during the day – and can have a significant impact on their wellbeing as well as their finances.

Please help to protect any vulnerable relatives or friends by helping to find reputable tradespeople and sharing police advice:
• use a door chain with unknown or unexpected visitors
• check identification – genuine callers expect this and will wait
• if you’re not sure, don’t open the door and report it by calling 101
• if you feel threatened or intimidated call 999 straight away
• lock your doors while you’re in your garden or another room
• keep cash in the bank, not at home
• join Neighbourhood Watch
• set up a ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ through your local council
• sign up to utility companies’ password schemes

Fraudsters can also contact you online or over the phone. Visit the national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre Action Fraud’s website, www.actionfraud.police.uk, for up-to-date information on fraud.