Police hunt rogue gang after elderly forced to hand over hundreds
PUBLISHED: 17:07 21 August 2018
People are being warned to be on alert against a gang of rogue handymen preying on elderly and vulnerable homeowners in Diss.
The group of workers have been distributing flyers in the South Norfolk town advertising work before returning to cold call people to persuade them to employ them to carry out jobs at low rates only to then later intimate people into handing over large sums of cash.
Police are investigating after at least one 81-year-old woman, who lives alone, has been left distressed when the gang demand £200 or a job that had offered to do for £45.
Her granddaughter Lucy Fox said: “My Nan found a leaflet and wanted guttering cleaned out. The leaflet said guy could do it for £45. She called him and asked if he would fix guttering, when she asked how much he said he’d tell her when he finished.”
Two men then turned up with a ladder while a third tried to persuade her to have other jobs done on her house before demanding payment.
“He asked for payment in cash or for her bank details, said it would be £200. He kept asking how much cash she had in the house, then asked for £150 and followed her into the house. He used a lot of intimidation and pressure and eventually settled for £100 cash.”
South Norfolk policing inspector Jason Selvarajah said: “These people are purporting to be a property maintenance company offering services such as cutting trees back or doing minor pieces of work. They then come into people’s houses threatening to look for cash and bank details or to frogmarch people down to the cash machine.
“We believe they are a single group in a van. They tend to drop flyers a day or two before then go back to the same area cold calling.
“We would strongly advice people to not employ services that cold call. Don’t employ people who undertake business in this way.”
Norfolk Trading Standards said doorstep rogue traders often pretend to be builders, gardeners or handymen offering to carry out work or ‘urgent’ repairs. The work is often poor, unnecessary and the price quoted can increase rapidly.
Anyone door-stepped or cold called is advised to call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506 or to Norfolk police via 101. If you feel vulnerable or threatened, call 999.