Householders warned over rogue traders

WARNINGS were issued last night about an increase in rogue traders targeting the elderly and vulnerable in Suffolk.

Kate McGrath

WARNINGS were issued last night about an increase in rogue traders targeting the elderly and vulnerable in Suffolk.

In a number of recent cases, pensioners have been conned out of thousands of pounds by pushy doorstep callers who go on to carry out shoddy work or flee with the money.

They include 84-year-old Roger Last, a Second World War veteran who lives near Stowmarket, who has given the EADT a harrowing account of how he has been repeatedly targeted in recent months.

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Last night, police and trading standards officials in Suffolk warned that rogue trader incidents typically increased in the summer months.

Tony Doorly, senior trading standards officer, said: “In these economic times there is the potential for incidents of rogue traders to increase, and we have noticed an increase in calls.”

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He said it may be that people were reporting such incidents more, but has issued advice to the elderly on how to avoid becoming a victim.

“I'd say we get several calls a week about rogue traders and a significant amount of these have handed over money.

“I've recently dealt with a case of an elderly lady who ended up handing over �13,000 for roof repairs.

“I would ask anyone to think twice if they are offered work on their door step. Always double check. If we are contacted early enough we can trace these bogus callers.”

Detective superintendent Jon Brighton said traders are often highly professional and organised and come from outside the county.

“Rogue traders prey on the elderly and vulnerable and use any means possible to obtain money from them. Victims are often pressurised greatly. I've known incidents where they have taken the victim to the cash point to withdraw money.

“They use different tactics and are very flexible. For example someone on the road might be having their drive way replaced by a bona fide company and the rogue traders will door knock neighbours offering to replace that drive way pretending they are part of the legitimate company.

“They come with all the gear and look professional, including wearing florescent jackets which a lot of people think are to do with the council.”

Last week, a police crackdown on rogue traders in Suffolk resulted in five arrests and more than 200 offences being recorded.

In total, 198 police offences, 23 trading standards offences and 25 department for work and pensions offences were identified.

Five people were arrested, including a 40-year-old male from Cambridge who was arrested in Lowestoft on suspicion of fraud by failure to disclose information. He was released on bail to return to Lowestoft police station on June 24.

Police also stopped 199 vehicles and visited more than 50 victims of previous rogue traders and distraction burglaries.

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