Elderly woman conned by cold-callers

News from Northumbria Police
News from Northumbria Police

A Northumberland pensioner has been tricked out of thousands of pounds after being targeted by a scam.

The 68-year-old woman, from Warkworth, answered a knock at her door on Monday, March 9, from a man and woman who offered to cut down some trees in her garden.

She agreed the work and the man charged her £5,000 for this; for work worth only a few hundred pounds.

The man is described as white, aged 31 or 32, five-feet six-inches tall, of slim build, short dark hair and having a Scottish accent. The woman was 20 to 25. with her hair worn in a long, dark ponytail. The pair were in a white van.

Detective inspector Dave Swinburne said: “Officers are making inquiries into this incident and we’re keen to hear from anyone who may have any information about these two people. If anyone saw anyone suspicious in the Warkworth or other areas of Northumberland, or may have received a call from a man or woman claiming to be carrying out work in the area, we would ask them to get in contact.”

The appeal is part of Operation Strongbow - an initiative which targets doorstep crimes and distraction burglaries.

Superintendent Steve Howes said: “Callers who turn up unannounced, whether they’re claiming to be carrying out work or selling something, should always be treated with caution. This is one example where this has resulted in extortionate amounts being charged for a relatively small work.

“It’s a timely reminder for people to be vigilant. Always get quotes from a number of companies before agreeing to work being done, and check identities of workmen and the company’s credentials.

“Never agree to work being done by people who cold call at your home, and never leave people alone in the house, even for a few seconds. I’d also advise to move out of sight any cash or valuables. Genuine callers will not mind being asked to come back at a different time so their identification can be checked or while arrangements are made for a relative or friend to be present when they return.

“People should also look out for elderly relatives and neighbours and report any suspicious people or vehicles they see in their community to police. If in doubt, contact officers.”

To report any information about the incident contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191 quoting reference 670 150315 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.