Warning for Cornwall Councillors: Cornwall under attack from rogue traders and doorstep criminals

In the last few days reports have been received from across Cornwall concerning doorstep scams, hard-sell salesmen and ‘back-of-a-van’ sellers. The number and range of frauds suggests that Cornwall is experiencing another spate of crime targeted at home-owners and in particular the elderly or vulnerable.

Fair Trading Team Manager, Nigel Strick explained: “We have received complaints about gangs offering to tarmac driveways with ‘leftovers’, about mobility-aid/recliner chairs salesmen spending hours and hours in a consumer’s home to force them to sign an order and about a gang selling ‘white goods’ out of the back of a van. Trading Standards already has a number of rogue trader investigations ongoing, but we fear that the number of complaints we get is simply the tip of the ice-berg as victims are often too embarrassed or afraid to come forward.

Cornwall Councillors can help to keep their constituents safe from these frauds and scams by alerting them to the current threats and by reinforcing the warning from Trading Standards:

“Not Sure? Don’t Open the Door!”

The best way of preventing this type of attack on Cornwall’s residents is to ensure that the public never deals with anyone who turns up at the front door or who rings out of the blue without an appointment.” No Cold Caller” stickers and leaflets are also available free of charge from Trading Standards. E-mail businesscomplaince@cornwall.gov.uk

If you suspect that a constituent has fallen victim to doorstep fraud or telephone/mail scam contact Trading Standards for assistance: 0300 1234 191

Doorstep crime incidents are typified by residents being cold called, whether on the telephone or at the door, and then pressurised into agreeing to buy services or goods.”

The types of goods and services that are often offered by Rogue Traders include:

  • Roofing, guttering or fascia boards
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Tree surgery or gardening
  • Driveway repairs or surfacing (both tarmac and block paving)
  • Minor building works or odd jobs
  • Painting, decorating or exterior wall treatments
  • Power washing – roofs and driveways
  • Cheap, unsafe power tools or white goods sold from the back of a van
  • Unsafe Sofas

The criminals often prey on the fears of home owners who are worried about maintaining their property or persuaded into thinking they will get a good deal if they agree immediately. In the last few years we have seen some very serious cases in Cornwall, where vulnerable victims have been conned out of large sums of money for poor/non-existent work or goods that were unsafe.

Evidence suggests that rogue traders are often linked to distraction burglary and that they will operate across borders; sometimes as part of an organised criminal gang.

The key message we want to get out is simple: “Not Sure? Don’t Open the Door!”

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