Millions of pounds are being paid out on doorsteps by unsuspecting residents, to rogue traders.
Targeting the elderly, they intimidate their victims into handing over money for shoddy or non-existent work.
Now, Trading Standards are fighting back, with a scheme designed to encourage people to watch out for their neighbours.
ITV Meridian spoke to Martin Woodley from Trading Standards.
After a number of rogue trader incidents, one of which an elderly woman handed over £5000 cash, Hampshire officers are asking people to look out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours.
Detectives are looking into a number of incidents where elderly members of the public were charge large amounts of money for roofing work that was not needed, and then driven to banks to withdraw cash.
Throughout February and March, incidents included:
- An 80 year old woman charged £4900 in Windsor.
- A couple in their 80s charged £4700 in Aldershot. They were going to be driven to the bank by the workmen to withdraw a further £5000 but neighbours intervened.
- A 79 year old woman charged £5000 in Camberley.
- A 69 year old man was quoted £10,000 but only paid out £4000 in Farnborough.
- An 84 year old woman from Basingstoke was driven to the bank to withdraw £4000 but an off duty member of police staff intervened.
Police are advising that you should ask for a written quote, not to pay upfront and to pay by cheque or credit card rather than cash.
Anyone with concerns about rogue traders should call the Safer Neighbourhoods team by calling 101.
These are eight quay cranes which have been installed at the new London Gateway.
Sixteen more cranes will be installed in the next few years.
London Gateway in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, is a £1.5 billion "super port" which is expected to save British importers and exporters hundreds of millions of pounds every year from reduced transportation of goods across the UK.
Just 25 miles from the capital, it is the closest deep sea port to the UK's largest markets of London, Birmingham and Manchester. The container ship MOL Caledon is expected to arrive from South Africa at around 11pm.
London Gateway is Europe's largest logistics park with 9.25 million square feet of warehouse capacity, and it is thought the development will add £3.2 billion to the economy each year and 12,000 direct jobs.
Police are advising residents to beware of rogue traders who may be operating in part of Kent. There have been reports in the Dymchurch and Littlestone areas, that people have been knocking on residents’ doors without invitation and offering to fix and renovate roofs of properties.
In one incident it was reported that two men offered their roofing service after claiming they had used a helicopter to check which buildings required new loft insulation. Kent Police would urge residents to take the following steps to make sure they are protected from rogue traders:
Do not deal with doorstep callers offering work on your home or gardenMake checks that the tradesperson is from the company they say they are fromAlways get written quotes and compare them to prices elsewhere
Kent County Council Trading Standards have been made aware of a business telephoning residents in the Ashford area offering the householder a free burglar alarm.
Officers say the caller seems to know a lot of information about the people they call and ask questions about their security arrangements. The business also claims that their product is endorsed by the Police. It is not usual practice for the Police to give such products their endorsement.
Hampshire residents are being warned of rogue traders in their area after an elderly woman in Lee-on-the-Solent was targeted. The 83-year-old was convinced that she needed work completed on her garden by a man who called at her house.
On a return call to the victim's house, the man drove the victim to the bank where she drew out £1,700 to pay for the work - far more than the work warranted.
Police have issued the following guidelines to guard against rogue traders:
- Take advice from family and friends to check if work is needed.
- Always obtain several quotes and make sure the quote you accept is in writing.
- Keep an eye on vulnerable relatives, friends or neighbours and help them to find reliable trades people if they have work that needs to be undertaken.
A BBC presenter has been jailed for 12 weeks for benefit fraud. Dan Penteado was a presenter on the programme Rogue Traders. He pleaded guilty to defrauding Bournemouth Borough Council. Our correspondent Martin Dowse has been in court and sent this report.