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Fighting back against rogue traders

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.

Elderly charged thousands by rogue traders

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.

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Villagers warned about rogue traders

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

Trading Standards warn of burglar alarm scam

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.

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Kent Trading Standards does not recommend agreeing to any work following a cold call. Few jobs are so urgent that they need immediate action. Previous experience is that burglar alarms that are offered for free or at a low price often have a maintenance and monitoring contract attached to them which is not free and can, in some instances, be both expensive and last several years

– Kent Trading Standards

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Rogue traders warning issued

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.

"I would like to speak to anyone in the local area that has had cold callers from landscaping or gardening businesses who behaved suspiciously or used pressuring tactics in an attempt to obtain money for work not required or completed. If you are concerned about people who call at your home then you should contact the police or Trading Standards."

– Detective Constable Chris Davies, Fareham and Gosport CID

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.

Bournemouth Council 'will not tolerate benefit fraud'

The amount of money stolen in this case is truly shocking. We are pleased that Mr Penteado has now been successfully prosecuted and brought to justice. The Council will not tolerate benefit fraud and will always take action to ensure public funds are protected from abuse and available to support the most vulnerable in society. Anyone committing benefit fraud should expect to be investigated and action to be taken.

– Councillor David Smith, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment

Presenter told his crime was 'planned and calculated'

This is not a victimless crime, it is actually a crime of stealing from the public purse. It was planned over four years and it was calculated and we consider it so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate - you knew exactly what you were doing. You will be sentenced to 12 weeks in prison and it will not be suspended.

– JOHN CORBEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE BENCH, BOURNEMOUTH MAGISTRATES' COURT
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