Bogus Builders Target Chiswick Elderly
Incidents reported of fraudsters telling residents they have water damage
Elderly residents in Chiswick have been warned to be on their guard, following at least two reports of a 'scam' involving bogus builders. The scam involves the 'distraction' of an elderly person by one man, by pretending there is a leak, while an accomplice then rifles through the house.
In one case reported to Chiswickw4.com a man is believed to have sprayed water on a wall while the resident was distracted, as part of an effort to 'prove' that she had water damage.
The resident in Grove Park, who is aged in her nineties, has told Chiswickw4.com of her experience in a bid to warn the public to be on the lookout.
The woman, who lives alone in a terraced house, was stopped by a young man while on her way home from local shops last week.
The man told her they had been doing work on her neighbour's house and that a serious water leak had been discovered in the loft. He said they needed to look at the brickwork of her chimney to see if water had gone through her party wall.
The resident said that she had not spotted any problems with damp but took the man through her house into the back garden. She cannot recall whether she locked her front door or left it ajar.
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While going back through the house she noticed water trickling down the wall and hand rail on the stairs. An upstairs bedroom also appeared to have water on the wall and carpet. Her phone rang and a man said that his builders had informed him of the problem. They could deal with it by hiring a drying machine but she would have to pay a 'holding deposit' of £4,800.
Fearing this was a con to get cash she put the phone down and alerted friends and neighbours who helped her report the matter to the police. Her neighbour later told her there was no work being carried out at his house so that there was no way any water damage could have been caused.
"Whatever story they tell, don't fall for it", she said, adding that police informed her that similar 'water damage' scams had been reported from all over the borough.
Another Chiswick resident has posted on the Chiswickw4.com forum about a similar attempt at a neighbour's house in Ravensmede Way.
"Yesterday two men gained access to my neighbours's flat by claiming there was a problem with the water pressure in one of the flats below and they needed to check the water pressure in her flat. One distracted her by getting her to turn her kitchen tap on and off. She became suspicious and found the other man in her walk-in wardrobe. They ran off when she said she was going to call the police."
Another recent fraud being perpetrated on the elderly involves Council Tax. Fraudsters have been phoning victims telling them that they are calling to let them know that they have been placed in the wrong council tax bracket for a number of years and that they are entitled to a rebate, they normally say that this rebate should be worth £7000. Since mid July Action Fraud has received 16 reports.
Once the victim is convinced, the fraudster tells them that in order to receive the rebate they will need to pay an administration fee in advance; the payment they ask for varies between £60-350. The victim provides the details and makes the payment, but then is no longer able to make contact with the person they spoke to on the phone.
Fraudsters are even cold calling victims claiming to be from Action Fraud and the police to trick them into handing over account numbers, sort codes and other personal information.
Action Fraud and the police say would never under any circumstances call you to request information such as this.
If you receive a call or email that is suspicious and you want to verify the identity claiming to be from Action Fraud you can call 0300 123 2040 or email email@example.com. Remember to wait at least five minutes to clear the line, or where possible use a different phone line to call us. If the contact centre is closed you should call the police on 101.
You can report any suspected scams to Action Fraud online, or by calling them at 03001232040 However this is not an emergency service, and if you feel you are in immediate danger the police advice is to dial 999.
September 8, 2015