|Drain Scam Artists Operating in Chiswick|
Watch out for conmen looking to exploit neighbourliness
Local residents are being warned to be on their guard against a scam which could cost them hundreds of pounds. The con is all the more reprehensible because to succeed the criminals rely on a sense of neighbourliness in their targets.
Last week a man calling himself Mark Lee knocked at the door of a woman in Chiswick. He claimed he had just moved in to the road backing on to her garden and that he had serious sewerage problems, his toilet was “backing up” when flushed and he needed to sort it out urgently. As the pipe for the sewer ran through her garden he asked for her phone number so she could be telephoned by a Mr Davis whom he had hired to deal with the problem. In return he gave his address and a mobile number.
“Mr Davis” soon rang and explained that he had checked the pipe with a camera and there was far too much pressure because of the blockage, and if this continued it might produce cracks in the pipe. He was organising hired equipment which would clear the blockage, and this equipment would need to operate from her side as well as from Mr Lee’s. 'Mr. Davis' then said she would need to pay a deposit. When questioned he was evasive about what this deposit would cover. When asked for contact details for the equipment hire company he gave out another mobile number and told her to speak to Gary. Mr Davis put on a lot of time pressure, said she was delaying the delivery of the equipment, and he was contracted to finish the job today. When asked, he gave a 0800 number to contact him.
The woman was then rung again by “Mark Lee” who asked why she was holding up the process, and got a bit angry. She didn’t want to fall out with a new neighbour so she rang “Gary” to try to understand what was going on, and asked again for the name of his company. She asked for a landline number for their Accounts Department or online details of company contracts or deposit policy. When she finally told him that she didn't have the sum demanded in her current account she was cut off.
When she had dialled 1471 after any of the calls no number had been given. She did some research and none of the company names she had been give existed online. Also any numbers she was given went through to a messaging service. She went round to the address given by “Mark Lee”, and the lady owner told me that there was no-one of that name at that address. At that point she reported the matter to the local police who confirmed it was a scam.
“Mark Lee” is described as a white male, 40-50, , normal casual clothes - pullover and trousers - about 5ft 10, well built but not really overweight, brown hair, gave mobile number 07789 127026.
Earlier the woman had a knock on the door from someone asking whether her neighbours were in, as he cleans their gutters. He may have been finding out if someone was in - this may or may not be connected.
Reputable local trades people can be found on the service section of this site.
September 4, 2011