Trading Standards officers are seeing new types of face-to-face and online fraud on a “daily basis”
, with fraudsters becoming increasingly confident and convincing at scamming members of the public, which is one of the reasons we run regular Scam Awareness Training here at North Tyneside Carers’ Centre. From offering fake shopping services, to trying to get into people’s homes to “check their water tanks for the virus” and advertising goods online that don’t exist – reports of scams are rising.
With that in mind, we are delighted to share the story of carer M who successfully helped with the prosecution of bogus workmen offering to clean gutters right here on our doorstep.
The team posed as a reputable business, offering door to door sales in the borough to clean gutters. M received a knock at the door in early October 2020 offering to clean his gutters for £40. With the price sounding reasonable enough, the fraudsters then showed M highly convincing pictures of rats and birds nests, complete with lots of straw that appeared to be clogging up his guttering. The work was booked in shortly after and M was left with a leaflet advertising their other services. The leaflet looked professional, but it wasn’t until M did his own due diligence on the company that he realised the company was bogus – the website and phone number were all fake.
When the workmen returned to clean his guttering, they knocked on M with the news that he needed further repair work – costing an eye watering £3500! With his suspicions confirmed about the company, M insisted on writing a cheque to the fictitious company “Stormguard Property Services Limited” – but the workmen were adamant they wanted it to be made out to an individual. M held firm and the workmen returned to his roof, on the pretence of repairing and cleaning his guttering. Days later, they came back, only this time they were more than happy for M to make the cheque out to the company name – a company M suspected they’d hastily set up over the weekend.
M made the cheque out to Stormguard Property Services, but post dated it for 2-3 days time. As the fraudsters left, M called his bank and cancelled the cheque, then called the police. Noticing the workmen had also spoken to neighbours, M alerted the local community which ultimately helped the police catch the workmen before they could do more harm to others.
We’re extremely proud of M and thankful that he contacted the police after the exchange turned sour. M kindly credits our scam awareness training as a useful experience to build his confidence in questioning professionals offering services and his understanding of the type of scams that are out there. If you’d like to attend one of our free scam awareness training sessions, please leave your contact details with our Training Officer via email@example.com or call 0191 643 2298.