A seventy-year-old lady from East Dulwich is warning people in Southwark to be vigilant after being targeted by doorstep rogue traders.
Patricia Jackson, who was born in Nunhead and lived in Peckham and Camberwell before moving to her home near East Dulwich said: “There was a knock at the door and a man introduced himself, he said there was a problem with the drains.
“He said because the mains cover was on my property I’d have to pay for the hire of the plant equipment to fix it.
“He seemed to know about my neighbour and his son and made me feel terribly responsible, he said if the drain overflowed with effluent my neighbour and the community centre would be affected as well.”
The man was with others, who tried to pressure Miss Jackson by phoning her, requesting she transfer money over.
“They asked if I had cash in the house and then they wanted me to transfer funds, but I don’t have a computer,” she said.
“They tried to get me to use telephone banking, but I said I didn’t have that, and twice they suggested a cab – they didn’t say to the bank, but it was implied.
“There was pressure, a sense of urgency; they talked about ‘rules and regulations’ and it being ‘my responsibility’.”
“In the end they left me alone because they didn’t see any possibility of money.”
Fortunately she reported them to police without handing over any cash, but the incident has had a long-lasting effect on her: “It makes me feel angry to think how many people will be scammed.
“I also feel depressed; the people who do this kind of thing don’t see the misery and bewilderment it causes.”
Miss Jackson’s story coincides with London Trading Standards Week, held from September 10-14, and a campaign to stop the fraudsters in Southwark.
The council says rogue traders typically show up uninvited to do work on people’s homes and once inside may invent a non-existent problem that needs urgent attention – often for a grossly inflated price – which can escalate into more serious works.
Southwark Council says fraudsters are active in the borough as six incidents have been reported to its team within the last four months – with residents losing more than £54,000 in total.
There are likely to have been many more unreported cases.
In one incident in Peckham, from May of this year, a roof was fraudulently removed, costing a vulnerable resident a staggering £36,500.
Across London, it is believed that trading standards officers have stopped people from being ripped off to the tune of more than two million pounds in the last year.
The council says nobody should give money over the phone or at the door, or make decisions about buying goods or services on their doorstep.
Rob Vale, chair of London Trading Standards’ doorstep crime group said: “Trading standards officers in London are working very hard to protect our most vulnerable residents in what are increasingly difficult times for local authorities.
“This type of work relies on dedicated, passionate officers who are motivated to safeguard their local residents.
“However, doorstep crime is known to be grossly under reported and we can only do something about it if we know about it.”
If you suspect either you or someone you know is being targeted, you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on: 03454 040506.
For advice on finding a reputable trader, visit www.southwark.gov.uk/roguetraders