FRESH warnings about bogus callers have been issued after an elderly Isle of Wight man was conned out of a large sum of money in a distraction scam.
The victim, an 89-year-old man from Sandown, was approached on Sunday, September 29, by a man posing as painter and decorator and on Saturday, October 5, by a man, believed to be an accomplice, posing as a Trading Standards official.
He was deceived into handing over a large sum of money, according to an Isle of Wight police spokeswoman today (Thursday).
Investigating officer DS John Walton, of Newport CID, said: "This is an utterly despicable crime against a vulnerable person.
"I am urging home owners to always check the credentials of unknown callers and call the company they claim to be from by using the telephone number in the phone book or on a bill. If in doubt shut them out.
"As well as contacting police immediately if you receive a suspicious caller or see any suspicious vehicles in the area. Please remember to take a note of the vehicles details and registration number."
The first suspect was described as white, about 5ft 7ins tall with a long straight nose, brown hair and aged in his 30s.
The second suspect was described as white, between 5ft 9ins and 6ft tall with dark hair and wearing blue Trousers and a blue jumper.
Islanders have been given advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of this type of offence:
•Bogus callers (distraction burglars, cold callers) use tricks to get into your home, such as pretending to be from water, gas or electricity companies. Remember, none of these companies should ever need to access your home, even in an emergency.
•Never open the door to someone you don’t recognise or are not expecting.
•However if you feel the need to open the door remember to:
Ensure the back door is locked before answering the front.
Put on the door chain or bar
Ask the caller for their identification
Close and lock your door and call the company they claim to be from by using the telephone number in the phone book or on a bill.
•Remember - if a caller is genuine they will understand your concerns
•You can arrange to have a password set up with your utility company. When a representative calls they will be expected to repeat this confidential word to you.
I•f you think you need to have work done to your home, ask for quotes from two or three reputable companies. •Check the council's Buy With Confidence list for a list of reputable companies.
•NEVER pay upfront to cold callers as it is likely you will not see them, or your money, again.
•Consumer legislation requires cold callers to give consumers a 'Cancellation Notice’ giving them a seven day cooling-off period during which they can cancel the contract.
•Trading Standards runs a trader approval scheme, where local traders are vetted for compliance with consumer legislation; for information contact Trading Standards on 01983 823370 or www.iwight.com/bwc
•If you have any concerns about someone who has called at your door, call police immediately. If you have a chance try to note what they look like and any vehicle they have with them, so police can investigate.
•Please be vigilant if you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours and report your concerns to the police on 101 or the Trading Standards Service hotline on 01983 823371.
Julie Woodhouse, principal officer for the Isle of Wight Council’s trading standards service, said: "All our trading standards officers carry photo ID and you should always ask to see someone’s identification if they claim to be from an organisation. The trading standards service would also never undertake this type of sting operation as described.
"Residents should always be very wary of rogue traders who will cold call, as in our experience they are often unqualified conmen who will overcharge for unnecessary repairs/services which will be of poor quality.
"Never pay upfront to cold callers, and if you require work doing to your home always try to obtain at least two written quotes, even if you use Buy With Confidence registered companies.
"We are committed, with the support of the police, to protecting Island residents and will take enforcement action, including prosecution, against any rogue traders."
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact DS Walton at Newport DCID by phoning 101. Mini-Com users can call the police on 18001 101. Information can be given anonymously by calling the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.
•Find out more about the Buy with Confidence Scheme and which businesses are registered with our free, on-line Buy with Confidence 2013 Directory.