Police investigating a #1 million scam targeting elderly people in the Clacton area have made 16 arrests.
The inquiry led by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate was launched in December and focused on reports of an organised crime gang taking advantage of elderly and vulnerable people.
Essex Police confirmed it had arrested 16 people. There are thought to have been 39 victims aged between 65 and 99.
The force said it had been working with Essex County Council's trading standards and adult social care departments.
Warrants were executed on Tuesday morning at addresses in the Colchester and Clacton areas. A team of 65 officers is involved in this phase of the operation.
Police have arrested six men on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, one woman and one man on suspicion of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and seven people on suspicion of money laundering.
They are all in custody in police stations in north Essex.
– Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, Essex Police
Over the past seven months my officers have been investigating a series of cases which appear to be the work of an organised crime group taking advantage of the elderly and vulnerable and exploiting them for criminal gain.
"During the investigation we have spoken to around 140 people who have assisted us in building a case to the point where we have now been able to make a significant amount of arrests.
"The offences we are looking at basically amount to the financial abuse of the most vulnerable members of our society.
"The evidence would suggest that these vulnerable people have been groomed and then preyed upon by a group whose sole intention appears to be to line their own pockets."
Following the arrests, police and trading standards warned residents not to have work carried out by people knocking on their door and instead seek quotes from reputable tradesmen.
Essex County Councillor Roger Walters, Cabinet member for trading standards said: "The arrests today demonstrate that we will not tolerate the unacceptable and abhorrent behaviour of those who prey on the most vulnerable members of our community.
"It is through vigilant work by trading standards officers and Essex Police that means we can identify rogue trading, act upon evidence and hopefully stamp out this activity across Essex."
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of this type of rogue trading, or has concerns about a friend, relative or neighbour, should contact Essex County Council Trading Standards via the national consumer advice helpline on 08454 040506.
Advice on how to choose a reliable and trustworthy business for home maintenance and repairs or general building work is also available from the national consumer advice service.
A list of Trading Standards-approved traders can be found at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk or by calling