June 19 2013 Latest news:
Lee-Ann Richards, Reporter
Sunday, February 24, 2013
An elderly man was almost duped out of £2,200 in a scam relating to drains at his home.
The man, who has not been named, is the latest resident to have been saved thanks to a banking protocol scheme that helps staff to identify when customers are being conned.
The man was tricked after a male aged around 40, who was smartly dressed, called at the property and told the resident that water works had been completed. Water mains contractors had been carrying out work nearby that day and the victim assumed that they were linked.
A short while later, the resident received a phone call from a drain company telling him that the water company working in the street had made a red and green mark outside his property and that this meant that he needed to pay £2,200 for problems with drains underneath his house.
They went on to say that if the resident paid that day, he would be exempt from paying VAT.
The victim believed this and went to the bank to take out the money. However, the bank intercepted the transaction after becoming suspicious and called the police.
Councillor Lesley Kelly, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Protection, said: “This was a very clever scam which could happen anywhere in the borough where works are taking place. “It’s important that residents don’t give money to anyone quickly and that they ask for identification if anyone from a company visits their house unexpectedly asking for money.”
The banking protocol was the first multi-agency scheme of its kind and is a new way of working between the council, local banks, the Met Police, Age Concern and the Havering Community and Police Consultative Group.
The banking protocol is part of the wider MoneySafe campaign to help people identify scams.
Council trading standards officers have trained staff from local banks in how to spot customers trying to withdraw suspiciously large sums of cash, which could be to pay off a rogue trader or for scam. Bank staff are able to delay or stop the transaction and call the police if they are suspicious.
Information and advice about scams and rogue traders is available from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or at www.adviceguide.org.uk.