Building society staff in Bradford on Avon have been praised after their quick actions prevented an elderly couple giving a large sum of money to rogue traders.
Police and trading standards officers have commended staff at the Coventry Building Society for being vigilant and ensuring the traders did not get what they wanted.
After being cold called at home, the elderly couple employed two men to carry out minor repairs to their roof, however after no more than ten minutes, the men were demanding a far greater amount than was agreed. They drove to the Coventry Building Society in Bradford-on-Avon to withdraw the cash but when the staff heard what had happened, they became concerned and called the police. By the time officers arrived the men had left but no money was paid to them.
Sgt Gavin Hucks from Wiltshire Police said: “It was pleasing those responsible did not get the money they were seeking. It is becoming an all too frequent technique these vile perpetrators use to extort money from people in our community who can easily fall foul of their deception and lies.
“I cannot emphasise enough that without the good will of people looking out for those that fall foul of this abhorrent act of crime, many victims may find themselves giving their hard earned money to criminals who deserve no more than a prison sentence. I would like to pass credit to the staff at Coventry for their early intervention.”
Karen Arter, customer service assistant at the Coventry Building Society, said: “As a member-owned organisation we work to put the needs of our members first and with the training we receive at the Coventry, we are always on the lookout for unusual transactions. This particular customer seemed a little anxious and by finding out more about the work they were being charged for, we realised something was badly wrong. We are delighted that in this case our customer was not cheated out of her money”.
Jerry Wickham, cabinet member for public protection at Wiltshire Council, said: “I’d like to pass on my thanks to the building society staff whose prompt action prevented any money from changing hands.
“Rogue traders often target the vulnerable and elderly in our communities by charging extortionate amounts for work that’s unnecessary, of a very poor standard or simply never completed. Legitimate tradespeople do not cold call customers and put them under pressure to pay large sums of money up front.”
Doorstep crime and rogue traders can be prevented. Please share our advice:
- Do not agree to work offered by someone who cold calls at your property or take at face value any unsolicited claims that work needs to be done.
- Try to obtain at least three quotes from reputable businesses you trust and make the decision on which to use in your own time.
- Get recommendations from friends, family or neighbours.
- You can find a Trading Standards approved tradesman at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk.
- If you feel threatened or intimidated, close the door and call 999 straight away.
Anyone suspecting this sort of extortion and crime is occurring should contact the police as a matter of urgency if the incident is fresh or happening, or via 101 to report an historic incident.
If you or someone you know has been targeted by scammers or rogue traders, report it to Trading Standards through Citizens’ Advice on 03453 040506