Watton householder duped by fake Trading Standards officers

PUBLISHED: 16:14 31 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:14 31 January 2014

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A Watton householder was duped into handing over thousands of pounds to doorstep scammers posing as Trading Standards officers.

Norfolk County Council is warning people to be vigilant after the con victim, who cannot be named, was told by the fake officials that they needed the money to carry out an investigation into a possible rogue trader.

The scam was reported to genuine Trading Standards officers, who took take action to prevent the situation from escalating, and the matter is now being investigated by the Operation Radar police team, which is dedicated to cracking down on bogus callers and distraction burglaries.

David Collinson, assistant director of public protection, who heads up Norfolk’s Trading Standards team, said: “Genuine Trading Standards officers would never act like this and would never ask residents to hand over money as part of an investigation. All of our officers carry official identification which you can check.

“This is doorstep crime – and extremely serious. Posing as a trusted official, in order to win someone’s confidence makes it even more offensive. “We are reminding people to always be cautious of cold callers offering any kind of service. In so many cases these are criminals who are looking to take advantage of them.

“In the vast majority of cases these are criminals who are looking to take advantage of the most vulnerable people in our communities which is why we calling on friends, relatives, neighbours and carers to be particularly on their guard to help keep them safe.

“We also know that these criminals tend to share information with each another, so we urge people to be particularly vigilant if family members and neighbours have previously been victims of doorstep crime or rogue traders.

“However, as this case shows, any one of us can be taken in by the tactics confidence tricksters use as part of their scams, particularly when they pose as bona fide officials. So every one of us needs to be extremely cautious if anyone shows up on our doorsteps unannounced.”

The council reminded people that if anybody claiming to be a council officer appears on their doorstep uninvited, to ask to see their identification, and also to call the Norfolk County Council customer service centre on 0344 800 8020 to check if they are genuine.

Other advice included not letting anyone inside your home until you are satisfied they are who they say they are, and if you feel you are in immediate danger or the caller is threatening or aggressive, call 999.

Dan Roper, cabinet member for public protection, said: “Our Trading Standards officers are a trusted team of people who dedicate themselves to protecting Norfolk’s consumers and tackling scams. So it is really sickening to hear that door step con artists are using the good name of our officers to exploit the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

For more information on Doorstep Crime contact Citizens Advice on 08454 04 05 06.

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