Wandsworth elderly homeowners warned against rogue traders


Wandsworth Council is warning residents to be on their guard this winter, following a spate of incidents in the area.


By Helen Glover

Elderly homeowners are being urged to be on their guard against rogue traders this winter by Wandsworth Council.

The advice follows a spate of incidents in the area in which elderly residents have been conned by bogus builders into unnecessary work.

The council fears that the criminals may now capitalise on the sudden cold snap by persuading vulnerable homeowners into insulation improvement work.

In two separate incidents, conmen turned up at residents’ homes, alleging that improvement work was required.

The fraudsters then convinced the residents to withdraw cash for payment – £4,000 and £10,000 respectively – despite not having carried out any work in one home and unnecessarily stripping part of the roof out in another.

Swift action by the banks in Wimbledon and Wimbledon Park – who were suspicious about the large cash withdrawals – ensured the criminals left empty-handed.

In Putney an elderly woman was even approached in the street by cowboy builders who claimed that a damp patch in her wall needed repairing.

The woman refused but was later confronted at home by the builders who demanded £750 for the work that was neither carried out nor necessary, before being interrupted by police and Trading Standards officers.

Councillor Jonathan Cook, cabinet member for environment, culture and community safety, advised: “Even though we understand some people will be worried about possible repairs to their home before winter sets in, we would urge them to be very careful about who they employ and to be extra vigilant about doorstep sellers.

“Never agree to any work being carried out by someone calling at your door without getting a second opinion and at least one other quote.”

He added: “We know that these rogue builders target elderly homeowners and would urge residents to look out for possible fraudsters calling on their elderly neighbours or check with them if they see any work being carried out unexpectedly.”

Wandsworth Trading Standards urge anyone considering having work done to their property – elderly or otherwise – to always seek a number of quotes from reputable companies and where possible, use those that friends or relatives recommend.

Consumer protection organisations like Trustmark and Checkatrade also offer lists of locally approved traders.

If you suspect that rogue traders are operating in the area or need to report an incident, contact Wandsworth’s Trading Standards team on 020 8871 7720.

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