Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards team is warning people to be extra vigilant after a resident was duped into handing over thousands of pounds to doorstep scammers claiming to be Trading Standards officers.
They told the victim, who cannot be named, but lives in the Watton area, that the money was needed so that they could carry out an investigation into a possible rogue trader.
David Collinson, Assistant Director of Public Protection who heads up the Trading Standards team said: “Genuine Trading Standards officers would never act like this and would never ask residents to hand over money as part of an investigation. All of our officers carry official identification which you can check.
“This is doorstep crime - and extremely serious. Posing as a trusted official, in order to win someone’s confidence makes it even more offensive.
“We are reminding people to always be cautious of cold callers offering any kind of service. In so many cases these are criminals who are looking to take advantage of theIn the vast majority of cases these are criminals who are looking to take advantage of the most vulnerable people in our communities which is why we calling on friends, relatives, neighbours and carers to be particularly on their guard to help keep them safe.
“We also know that these criminals tend to share information with each another, so we urge people to be particularly vigilant if family members and neighbours have previously been victims of doorstep crime or rogue traders.
“However, as this case shows, any one of us can be taken in by the tactics confidence tricksters use as part of their scams, particularly when they pose as bona fide officials. So every one of us needs to be extremely cautious if anyone shows up on our doorsteps unannounced.”
The council is reminding residents that if anybody claiming to be a Council officer appears, uninvited, on their doorstep, to ask to see their ID and also call the Norfolk County Council customer service centre on 0344 800 8020 to check if they are genuine. A Council officer will never mind waiting while you do this. Do not let anyone inside your home until you are satisfied they are who they say they are, and if you feel you are in immediate danger or the caller is threatening or aggressive call 999.
Dan Roper, Cabinet Member for Public Protection said: “Our Trading Standards officers are a trusted team of people who dedicate themselves to protecting Norfolk’s consumers and tackling scams. So it is really sickening to hear that door step con artists are using the good name of our officers to exploit the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“In this particular case, although a great deal of money has already been handed over, the victim’s suspicions were aroused and they took action by calling us. As a result, our officers have been able to intervene to prevent the situation from escalating. The matter is now being investigated by the Operation Radar police team that is dedicated to cracking down on bogus callers and distraction burglaries. Together, we have every intention of getting to the bottom of this very nasty incident as soon as possible.”
If you require further advice or have any information about this or any other Doorstep Crime please contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06