Crackdown on conmen at the door

ROGUE traders and pushy doorstep sellers in Hertfordshire have been targeted this week in a special operation.

Organisations across the country have taken part in a multi-agency campaign which aimed to target rogue traders and highlight the dangers that consenting to have work carried out by cold callers can bring.

Rogue traders cold call victims and offer gardening work or maintenance services at attractive rates but the quality of work is substandard or unnecessary.

The amount demanded for the work will increase and the culprits will use intimidating behaviour in order to extort large sums of money.

A 70-year-old man from Stevenage was recently a victim of a rogue trader. He was charged �500 for unnecessary work to his roof.

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Speaking about his experience, he said: “Whilst one of the men was talking to me the other was already up on the roof pulling the roof tiles off. There was not a lot I could do. His voice was changing and he was getting a bit more lary.

“I started to feel ‘get them out of the way’ and gave them the money. I came indoors and kicked myself and called myself all the names under the sun. It was upsetting because I didn’t think I would ever fall for that and I’m embarrassed that I had been conned.”

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In Herts, Operation Manhunt is a dedicated team who investigate doorstep crime committed against the elderly. This includes distraction burglary and rogue trading fraud offences.

Detective Chief Inspector Elizabeth Hanlon, from Operation Manhunt, said: “This week gives us the opportunity to send a clear message to those who are intent on committing these crimes against the elderly and vulnerable in our community that we will not stand for it.

“The majority of traders in our county are legitimate; however we are concerned with tracking down those who deliberately set out to con people out of extortionate amounts of money for work that is often not needed. In a recent incident, one elderly man parted with over �60,000 for work carried out on his home.”

Hitchin county councillor Richard Thake, executive member for community safety, said: “We have had considerable success in getting rogue traders prosecuted through the courts, and will keep up the pressure on people who use these tactics.”

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