Police in Worcester Park and Nonsuch offer advice to bank staff following bogus builders
Police and Sutton Council's trading standards team are urging bank staff to question the elderly when they draw out large sums of money.
Following a series of incidents where vulnerable residents were forced to make withdrawals by unscrupulous builders to pay for work never completed, officers from Worcester Park and Nonsuch safer neighbourhood teams have spoken to staff.
With the customer's permission, if bank staff believe a crime is in progress, they have been urged to call on 999.
The advice is being given by Sergeant Ashley Bennetts and Brian Cox, of Sutton Council's trading standards team.
During 2010 the Office of Fair Trading received more than 13,000 complaints about rogue door step traders who had called at the homes of vulnerable people unannounced and tried to sell them goods or services.
Often they would tell them they needed urgent building work carried out, demanded a large sum of cash, and even offered to drive their victim to the bank or wait at their home while they withdrew the money.
Chief Inspector Nick Collins, who runs the borough's Safer Neighbourhoods policing teams, said: "These are despicable people because they are preying on elderly and vulnerable people by tricking them into withdrawing money for work that may never be carried out or work that is greatly over-priced.
Bank staff can help us greatly by questioning withdrawals that are out of character. We encourage banks to call us if they are suspicious and we will arrive quickly and carry out a thorough investigation to catch the tricksters and conmen."
Councillor Richard Clifton, Lead Member for Revenues and Benefits and Trading Standards, said: "Keeping our borough’s elderly and vulnerable residents safe from opportunistic thieves is a key priority for Sutton Council.
We're working closely with the police service to ensure that these disgraceful crimes are stopped and that people within the borough feel safe answering their doors or when they are out in the town’s streets."
Details of approved traders can be found via Sutton Council's Safer Sutton Trader Scheme, which has been introduced so that local residents, who employ traders to carry out work on their homes, can be confident that certain standards will be met.
For more information call 020 8770 5070, or visit: sutton.gov.uk. For advice about a rogue trader contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0845 404 0506.