Cruel conmen have targeted vulnerable home owners across Lancashire in a wave of scams across the county.
Lancashire residents are being warned to beware of dodgy driveway sellers, rogue roofers and overseas property and crop scams this month.
In Preston and South Ribble, there have been reports of cold-calling driveway sellers using very high pressure tactics.
One elderly lady received repeated visits from a trader trying to get her to agree to have her drive replaced.
Fortunately she did not agree, but the visits only stopped when the county council’s trading standards team intervened.
In another incident, the elderly householder did agree to driveway work. The initial price was £6,000, but during the course of the work, this increased to £15,000 and the homne owner was put under pressure to keep withdrawing money from his bank.
In Burnley, Colne and Morecambe, there have been reports of roofers misleading people into having work done.
In one case the householder was cold called by roofers and told they had been doing work at a neighbours and had noticed a tiling problem that could cause the roof to leak. The alleged work took one hour to complete and cost £1,400.
There was a separate incident where a man with dementia was told work needed doing to his roof, which was not the case, and was taken to the bank for payment.
Amanda Maxim, trading standards manager, said: “Everyone should beware of cold-callers and our advice is to always say no to them. They target vulnerable people and pressurise people into to paying a fortune for work that is often of a very low standard and/or not completed.
“There are still lots of reputable firms out there and you can use schemes like our Safe Trader Scheme to find one in your area.”
People are also being warned about overseas property and crop schemes. These may offer investors an opportunity to buy a plot on a plantation which harvests crops such as teak trees, jatropha, paulownia and biofuels.
The investment is usually stated to be low risk but promising high, often ‘guaranteed’ returns of around 15 per cent to 25 per cent. Investors are usually called out of the blue, but contact can also come by email, post or online and promoters often use aggressive, high-pressure sales tactics.
Amanda added: “People need to be very wary of these schemes. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate the sale of land, trees or crops. This means you won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong.
“Always contact trading standards for advice if you’re unsure about these schemes.”
To find a trader in your area, visit http://safetrader.org.uk/ or call 0303 333 1111.
Contact Trading Standards team via the Citizen’s Advice helpline, 03454 04 05 06.
You can report a scam to Action Fraud by visiting https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or calling 0300 123 2040.