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Warning sounded over doorstep conmen

Residents are being warned to be on their guard against doorstep conmen targeting the elderly and vulnerable.

The alert from Middlesbrough Council’s Trading Standards follows an attempted scam that was averted by a quick-thinking bank manager.

A man posing as a gardener knocked on the door of an elderly resident, offering to tidy up their garden for £300.

However the work undertaken was worth more no more than £20 or £30.

As the resident did not have £300 to hand the trader accompanied him to his local bank to collect the money.

When the resident tried to withdraw the £300 the concerned bank manager asked what the money was for as she thought it was an unusual amount for this customer to withdraw.

When she was told the money was for gardening work she discussed her concerns with the customer and the money was then left in his account.

Bank staff then called the police who in turn contacted Trading Standards about the scam.

Trading Standards are currently investigating the incident and have praised bank staff for their thoughtful intervention.

Fair Trading Officer Jane Dent urged residents to think twice if approached by a doorstep trader: “Elderly residents are at risk of being scammed by unscrupulous people who exploit their vulnerability.

“We would encourage family members, friends and neighbours of anyone who may be vulnerable to scams to discuss this with them.

“Our trading standards service is signed up to a national project to highlight the problem of doorstep crime such as this as well as mail and phone scams.

“We are working with partner agencies to identify and protect vulnerable residents who may be targeted.”

Things to consider if you think a caller is a scam or rogue trader include:

  • Is the visit out of the blue?
  • Is the visitor a stranger?
  • Are they pressurising you to part with your money?
  • Are you unsure about who they are?
  • Are they asking you for personal information?

If the answer to more than one of these questions is ‘yes’, it’s best to ask the caller to leave.

If a trader suggests they go to the bank with them this is suspicious behaviour and going to the bank should be avoided.

Staff in banks are trained to look for suspicious withdrawals and are there to help protect their customers from fraud and scams.

  • Anyone with information on the latest incident - or with concerns about other scams - should contact Cleveland Police on 101 or Trading Standards on 03454 040506.