Category: Door to Door Sales

Fake Builders Stopped

Fake builders cheated an elderly widow out of £700 and damaged an honest small business when they hijacked its address and used it to front their scams.

Bridget Maendl, runs postal and print franchise Mail Boxes Etc in London Bridge and has had to spend hours defending her company and explaining to short-changed consumers she too had been a victim of the criminals.

A lady named Joyce answered the door to a “charmer” offering to paint her house and claiming to be from a company called Property Wise Ltd based at in Southwark.

Two men spent an hour “fiddling about” in Joyce’s home the next day, then left with the £700 cash they had asked her for, promising they would return the following week. Much to her distress they didn’t.

This is a typical scam perpetrated by fake builders.

The criminals in this case created a number of fake company names – Property Wise Ltd, Active Roofing & Building Ltd and Citywise Builders Ltd.

The there companies claimed to be registered at the MailBoxes address and were not correctly registered at Companies House.

Bridget Maendl followed Trading Standards’ guidance and alerted Companies House to the fake company names being used.

The case is ongoing.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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The Electricity Scam

This is about people who turn up on your doorstep offering cut price electricity for those who have pre-payment meters.

Users of these meters buy keys to top-up their meter and scammers can clone the keys and then resell them. They typically offer the keys at half price so the householder thinks they are getting a good deal. However the scammers often sell the same key to numerous people and each key number can only be used once so the purchasers end up paying for the cloned key then again the full price for the electricity as the Electric companies register that the key has already been used and hence payment is due.

Action Fraud believe that more than 110,000 households have been affected by this crime already.

Customers of all the leading energy companies – including British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – have been affected.

  • Never buy your electricity from someone who knocks at your door. Electricity companies do not sell electricity top-up door-to-door.
  • Always buy your electricity from official outlets – PayPoint, Payzone and The Post Office.

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Trading Standards Stop Cold Calling Pack

Trading Standards across the UK have been fighting to stop cold callers, where they intimidate householders, refuse to leave till something is purchased, worry the elderly, sell poor quality products at high prices, charge for services but don’t deliver and so on.

There are cold callers who provide legitimate services and care about their customers of course, but for many householders, unwanted cold callers are a real problem.

Buckinghamshire and Surrey trading standards co-operate in many areas and have jointly released a Stop Cold Calling sticker pack which is freely available to householders in both counties.

 

 

The pack contains:-

  • A warning sticker to go on the outside of your front door. This is to deter cold callers and makes it plain to them that they are not welcome and failure to leave is a criminal offence
  • A transparent version of the sticker that can attached inside a window
  • A “Don’t be a Victim of Doorstep Crime” sticker to go inside your door as a reminder

There’s also relevant information about cold calling and an invitation to sign up to their weekly newsletter called TS alert.

If you want this pack – contact your local trading standards as most have an equivalent service.

This a useful provision to help people who find it difficult or worrying to get rid of cold callers.

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

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Doorstep Safety

There are many genuine trades people and sellers who knock at your door offering legitimate services and products. But, there are also many scammers who want to talk you into bad deals or just steal your money.

For many older and vulnerable people, doorstep sellers can be frightening or too convincing.

If you don’t feel safe answering the door to someone you don’t know then don’t. Someone calling unexpectedly has no right to your time or courtesy. It’s your choice to answer or ignore.

The following precautions may help:-

  1. Keep your doors locked even when at home
  2. Have a chain on your front door so you can safely open it just a few inches
  3. Have a spy hole (or electronic eye) fitted in the door so you can who’s knocking
  4. Get a Trading Standards sticker ‘NO COLD CALLERS’

Trading Standards say you should never sign anything on the spot, never agree to allow any work to start right away and remember that you normally have a 14 day cooling-off period during which you can cancel any work and receive a refund of money paid.

They also say that you should never agree to have work done by someone just passing by. If some work is needed, get at least two quotations from reputable traders. Your local Trading Standards Service may operate an ‘approved trader scheme’ or use check-a-trade or similar review website.

Bogus callers may turn up on your doorstep and say that they have come to investigate a water leak or they are lost and need a drink of water. Sometimes they may say they have a child who has lost a ball in your back garden. They are probably trying to trick you to let them into your home so they can steal cash and valuable items. Don’t let them in.

It isn’t rude to ask someone to leave – it is your right.

Do Neighbourhood Watches Help to Reduce Door-to-Door Scammers?

The anecdotal evidence is that they do reduce this type of crime. This is largely because people are more aware of possible crimes and do keep an eye out for unexpected visitors to their doors. Also, door-to-door crooks tend to avoid areas where there are any signs of organisation against crime.

Stay Safe.

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The Damaged Roof Scam

This is a doorstep scam that has been happening in the Hampton area of Surrey recently, but is common in many areas.

One or more men knock at your door and say they have damaged your roof accidentally and are willing to fix it free of charge. They usually claim to have been working on next door’s roof when the accident happened.

Doesn’t sound like a scam so far, BUT they will need something that requires a deposit such as scaffolding. They had the cheek to tell one resident that he would need to pay £2,500 deposit for scaffolding for just a few hours.

Fortunately he recognised the scam, as otherwise they would have taken the money and disappeared.

They may claim the roof is damaged or the guttering is broken or in some cases they offer a free check of your roof tiles. Once on the roof they deliberately cause damage and demand an exorbitant price to fix it.

One resident says:-

This exact scam happened to me some months ago. “I am sorry, my ladder accidentally caused your roof damage. I will repair it at no cost”. It sounds like the same gang. Foolishly I allowed him to go up and he then caused damage which I had to get repaired. Yes, follow them and get vehicle number, but do not let them spot you as they then know where you live.

A local roof tiler says:-

“I was called to a job last week where two guys offered a free inspection and once on the roof removed ridge tiles and then refused to put them back unless the owner of the house paid them £350

He told them to come down and reported them to the police.

He then called me and I re-cemented the ridge tiles back and changed some broken tiles at a reduced fee as the

The various residents involved have all reported this to the Police, who already knew about the fraudsters and they have been caught.

However, there are numerous other gangs who also operate this scam.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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The Kitchenware Car Park Scam

This has happened before in Surrey but now theses scammers are at it again.

They have approached people in Waitrose car park in Cobham and at Painshill car park.

You’re in a car park and maybe just getting out of your car or heading back to your car and you are stopped by someone. You expect they want directions to somewhere but they start telling you a story. Sometimes they hang around schools trying to talk to the waiting parents or sometimes they just knock on doors.

The story is roughly as follows:-

 I was on my way to the airport to fly home but I have too many samples left. Kitchen knives, cutlery, crockery – all top quality sets as you can see for yourself (shows the product).

 I can’t take them on the plane as they are too heavy so I have to sell them off quickly.

I can offer these professional products to you at a very much discounted price if you buy now.

The products have designer names and appear to be Swiss made and top quality but when the victim’s inspect them at home, they realise they are poor quality copies and not worth what was paid.    

The scammers have German accents and speak good English.  They are clearly very convincing as people keep falling for this scam and some spend over £1,000 only to find out their purchases are near worthless.

The Police do know about these scammers but if you are approached by them then do tell the Police.

If you know anything about these scammers or have been conned by them – let me know.