Council saved elderly woman from being conned out of £17,000 by rogue trader

Merton Council’s trading standards officers saved an elderly woman from being conned out of thousands of pounds when a rogue trader demanded money for bogus work to her home.

The 77 year-old woman, who lives in Merton Park, tried to withdraw £17,000 in cash from the Morden branch of Santander yesterday (Tuesday 13 September.)

The elderly resident had been told by a builder that tiles on her roof needed replacing, falsely claiming that water damage was affecting the wall.

She went to her local Santander branch and tried to withdraw the cash to pay the builder, but staff raised the alarm and called the council’s Adult Safeguarding Team who contacted Trading Standards.

The team responded immediately and met the resident and the police at the bank. Whilst Trading Standards provided the resident with support and guidance at her home, the builder telephoned again asking if she had successfully withdrawn the money and tried to arrange to collect it from her. The builder soon realised that the game was up and put down the phone.

The most common tactics used by rogue traders committing doorstep crime include knocking on the door and saying they have noticed a problem with the person’s home that they can fix, saying they have leftover materials from another job that they can use, such as tarmac for a drive and hard selling – overstaying their welcome in your home or at your door.

Not all cold callers are rogue traders, but agreeing to have work done on your home by someone who knocks on your door could make you a victim of doorstep crime.

Cabinet member for community safety, engagement and equalities, Councillor Edith Macauley, said: “This rogue trader attempted to con a resident out of her hard earned savings for unnecessary and overpriced work. Incidents like this can have a detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence. In this instance the quick actions of Santander bank and our Trading Standards team have saved a resident £17,000.”

If you think you have been targeted by a rogue trader please contact our Trading Standards team via The Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040 506.

An investigation is ongoing.