Doorstep Crime

Trading Standards were recently contacted by a resident in the Formartine area about a simple but notable roofing scam. The resident’s elderly neighbour had been contacted at home by a roofer who called at the address about work which the roofer believed was apparently required on the resident’s roof. The work was agreed and apparently completed and the neighbour paid the roofer by cheque for a 4 figure sum.

The roofer returned to the neighbour’s the next day and complained that the bank would not cash the cheque, so he would need a fresh cheque to cover his costs. Notably, the roofer did not return the first cheque but the neighbour duly obliged with a second cheque and the roofer left. However, he returned the next day to say the bank would not cash the second cheque either, so he would need a third cheque to cover the original costs. The roofer did not return the second cheque either. It was at this point that the resident, who was visiting his neighbour, intervened and called the conversation to a halt. He asked the roofer to leave or he would call the Police, so the roofer left.

The resident then helped his neighbour to contact his bank and report the matter. It appears that the roofer had presented the first cheque, which had cleared but the bank stopped the second cheque, which hadn’t yet cleared.

The obvious intent of the roofer was to extract as many cheques as possible from the vulnerable neighbour, thereby doubling or tripling his profits in the process.

Some points to consider:

• Our advice remains the same; as this incident demonstrates, dealing with doorstep callers is a highly risky business. Far safer to just thank them for their concern and say, “No thanks”,

• Take haggling out of the equation. Tell the caller that you have a relative who’s in that line of work and in this cost of living crisis, you’d like them to look at the issue instead,

• DO NOT discuss prices, so you remove the opportunity for the caller to say that they ‘will do it cheaper’,

• If the caller becomes persistent, tell them you have a visitor and you really must go back indoors,

• Alternatively, tell them you have a pot boiling on the stove and you’re worried it might boil over,

• If the caller becomes insistent, tell them you will call the Police (and mean it). If necessary, call the Police,

• DO NOT be afraid to close the door on the caller. They have had enough of your time, just remember to lock it too,

• Try to note as much detail as you can about the caller, their appearance and their vehicles and keep any paperwork they might hand over to you.

Report the matter to Police Scotland or Trading Standards, so that they can collate these reports and consider taking action against the caller.

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