Rogue trader network faces police crackdown

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ROGUE traders and bogus callers are being targeted by a police crackdown on fraudsters who prey on the elderly and vulnerable.

Gangs of doorstep con artists are known to operate in Edinburgh, with 60 offences reported to police in the last five months.

Jean Williams, who was conned out of hundreds of pounds by bogus workmen, joins Superintendent Andrew Allan to warn of the dangers. Picture: Julie Bull

Jean Williams, who was conned out of hundreds of pounds by bogus workmen, joins Superintendent Andrew Allan to warn of the dangers. Picture: Julie Bull

However, police chiefs believe that these crimes are only the “tip of the iceberg”, with the great majority of
victims never stepping forward to report crimes.

The fraudsters have an intelligence network, sharing details of victims who are easy targets for further frauds. Some even send out Christmas cards to victims in a bid to maintain contact as they prepare to strike again.

The month-long campaign will see officers joining forces with trading standards officials to pursue known offenders.

Random checks will be conducted at homes in the Capital where building or gardening jobs are going on to ensure the tradesmen are above board and residents are happy with the work and price.

Superintendent Andrew Allan said: “We’ll be targeting enforcement against known offenders who we believe are still active. We know that this remains a very under-reported crime, often because victim feel embarrassed or ashamed about being conned.

“We know that these are organised criminal groups who share information on victims they have already defrauded. Other criminals then return to target them again.

“Most victims are elderly but they also go after people with mental health problems or physical disabilities.”

Supt Allan warned that rogue traders may use business cards, leaflets or photographs of work they claim to
have completed as part of their ruse.

He said: “Some may even have worked in trades at some point, but there real skill is conning people. They have a business, but that business is crime.

“They may do work which is sub-standard, or massively over-charge for it, or simply not turn up to do the job after taking a deposit.

“Things like business cards are simple things to produce in five minutes on a laptop.

“They are just window
dressing for their true intentions.”

Radio adverts and posters will form part of the “beat bogus callers” campaign, with the aim of highlighting the dangers of unexpected callers.

Greg McCracken, policy officer with Age Scotland, said: “These crimes can have a profound effect on their victims so it’s vital that people are informed about what to look out for and who to turn to for help.”

Across Scotland, 583 reports of rogue traders and bogus callers were made since the launch of Police Scotland in April.

Jean paid £1600 for £50 job

RETIRED school assistant Jean Williams fell victim to rogue traders and has revealed her ordeal in a bid to help others.

The 79-year-old, who lives in Trinity, was conned by a gang who convinced her that the roof of her home was dangerous and needed repair.

The conmen charged her £1600 for work which was later estimated to be

worth £50.

David Scott, 28, one of the men involved in the con, was later jailed for 18 months for a number of offences.