Criminal Traders

Criminal (Rogue) Traders are fraudsters pretending to be builders, gardeners, salesmen or other tradespeople trying to convince you that you require urgent maintenance to your house or garden. They will cold call and try to pressurise you into a quick decision to allow work to be carried out for a ‘special cash price’. Offering to carry out repairs to the house, such as roofing, guttering or damp proofing. They will strike up conversations with the householder to go one of two ways; with intimidation or aggressive behaviour to frighten them into having the work done “If those tiles fall off and kills someone”; or to befriend them into believing they are there to genuinely help, with elements of grooming the victim taking place. The offer of work will also cover driveway tarmac/resurfacing, power washing or any gardening job from grass cutting, hedge trimming to fence erecting.

Nearly always the Trader will charge extortionate prices for the services, including charging for unnecessary work and on occasions deliberately damaging property in order to obtain the work. The work may be substandard and poor quality, they will claim to have done work which has not been done, especially to roofs, where the householder cannot see. They will leave work unfinished and make false statements about numerous things including membership of trade associations. It is common for a price of £50 to be mentioned to complete new tarmac on your driveway, only for this price to escalate to £50 per square yard! Ten square yards “£500 cash please, NOW”. 

Unfortunately, it will not end there. Once a payment has been made in cash the fraudsters will be back with other ruses or they will trade the persons details on to the next team.

In one such incident in Lincolnshire it was known that five different teams had their claws into an elderly victim, with monies being paid over on a regular basis for alleged roof work and garden maintenance. It culminated in a violent attack with five balaclava wearing offenders demanding to know where he kept his money before leaving with numerous antique items. It is not unknown for traders to accompany victims to local banks to withdraw money to pay them. Whilst banks have become more proactive with most now engaging with police in the Banking Protocol, ATM machine’s do not offer this face to face protection and some now allow withdrawal of several thousand pounds at one time. Information uncovered during the research by Brian Steele, verified the long believed idea that indeed these teams do trade victims between each other. They may take a monetary cut from proceeds of the next job or simply exchange victims. Either way a new trader will suddenly appear at the home of an already established victim, looking at a different item that needs repair. Unfortunately, it is rare that a person who has paid cash to criminal traders be targeted only once.

This video is a good example of how Doorstep Crime is played out. Please watch and share the link available. We are grateful to Kent County Council Public Protection Team for allowing the use of this powerful video

The action of these traders can be very distressing for their victims with the grooming ongoing and prolific visits leading to financial hardship for many who engage with these criminals. We must remember that the phrase Rogue Trader or Cowboy Builder is nonsense. They are neither Rogues or Cowboys, but Professional Criminals. Criminals who take pride in extracting cash from those most vulnerable within our communities and know how to talk their way into people’s lives.

The message: DON’T DEAL WITH COLD CALLERS!

If you suspect such an incident has occurred to you, a relative, neighbour, friend or someone you look after please report it to the police immediately.

REMEMBER    

    

  • Do Not deal with Cold Callers.        
  • Do Not allow Cold Callers into your home.        
  • Do Not pay CASH on the doorstep.        
  • Do Not employ passing workmen.
  • Never go with a cold caller/passing workman to withdraw money from a bank or cash machine.
  • Call police if uninvited callers will not leave.

Note: There being no specific ‘rogue trader’ crime category offences of this nature will normally be recorded as ‘fraud by false representation’. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

        

  • Explain to elderly relative/friend/neighbour/client how Criminal Traders/Fraudsters work.        
  • Discuss household security – doors/windows.        
  • Discuss opening the door to un-expected callers.        
  • Discuss the folly of keeping large amounts of cash in the house.        
  • Discuss why you should not pay with cash on the doorstep.        
  • Explain how it is not rude to say ‘No’.        
  • Reassure person that they can call police for help. 

You will not resolve issues or change perspectives overnight, but, by REPEATING and drip feeding the information it will sink in and your patience and perseverance will help prevent further crimes.