Warning after pensioners in West Wickham and Beckenham are targeted by “despicable criminals”

By Luke King in Community News

RESIDENTS are being urged to be vigilant after a bogus builder tried to take £7,000 from local pensioners.

In the first incident, Trading Standards officers were called to the Natwest bank in Beckenham where an 89-year-old woman was attempting to withdraw £4,000 in cash. 

Officers discovered she had been cold called by a heavily built man and told that there was a problem with her overflow and the drainage in her rear patio.

While she was distracted by the man at the rear of the property another individual entered the house, went upstairs and poured water over the toilet floor to make it appear that there was a water leak. The lady was asked to hand over £4,000 in cash to pay for machinery to rectify the problem.

A second report to Trading Standards came from Bromley police. In a virtually identical incident, a 91-year-old West Wickham resident was cold called by a heavily built man and told that there was a problem with the drainage in her rear patio.

Whilst she was with this man at the rear of the property, she heard a flushing noise from her toilet upstairs. She later realised that another individual had entered the house, went upstairs and poured water over the toilet floor to make it appear that there was a water leak.

The woman was asked to pay £3,000 in cash to pay for machinery to rectify the problem. The resident went straight to a neighbour who reported the incident on her behalf.

Councillor Kate Lymer, executive councillor for public protection and safety, said: “It is clear that these despicable criminals are targeting older residents. I would urge everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious callers offering any sort of property repairs to our trading standards team.

“The simple advice here is not to deal with cold callers and never let them in your house, even if they appear to be plausible. Thanks to Natwest, the police and the concerned neighbour, we were able to intervene on both occasions.”

Trading Standards are urging residents to report any incidents of cold calling for property repairs and to keep a look out for any vulnerable neighbours.

Contact can be made via the Trading Standards Rapid response Number on 07903 852090. Advice on how to avoid becoming a victim to bogus builders and other scams is available on the council’s website: www.bromley.gov.uk/tradingstandards

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