A plucky elderly couple today told how they had foiled bogus callers to their home THREE times.
Dorothy and Bob Ireland have spoken out to raise awareness of elderly people being targeted by bogus officials, and to encourage people to speak out about what is often an underreported crime.
Encouraging figures released as part of the county’s annual Scamnesty campaign, which raises awareness of scams and bogus callers, show a 10% increase in bogus caller complaints in Lancashire to 1,031 last year. But Trading Standards officials and police fear not enough people follow Dorothy and Bob’s example, with victims are still too afraid or embarrassed to report being approached by cold callers and scammers.
The couple, of Railway Street, Leyland, today urged other elderly folk in the county to follow their lead by having a chain on their door and to report suspicious incidents to the police.
Brave Dorothy, 82, revealed how during one incident she picked up a fire shovel to brandish at one of the conmen as his accomplice tried to distract Bob, 86.
The retired cleaner said: “An Irish man called just as I was going to get myself a drink. He was scruffy and had terrible teeth. I picked up a fire shovel and started swinging it at him. I said: “You know what will happen to you, you don’t need to try and con me.
“His accomplice, his son, was stood in the doorway talking to my husband. He said we had a cistern upstairs. I said: ‘We don’t have a cistern’.”
In another case, reported by the Evening Post in 2009, they foiled two tricksters as they tried to con their way into their Lancashire home posing as water board officials, who told the couple they needed to get into the house to turn off a water valve – and that if the valve blew it would blow the roof off.
The bogus workers were given a stern ticking off – with Dorothy telling them: ‘Come off it – don’t talk so daft. You are conmen and we don’t need you around here’.”
She slammed the door in their faces and watched the men walk off.
When a third bogus caller tried to outsmart them a few weeks later posing as an electricity worker, he too was sent away.
Dorothy says: “We had a Pakistani man turn up to talk to us about electricity and I said: “You know what you can do, you’re not conning me with all your fancy numbers, and you can get gone.
“Everybody seems to call at our house, maybe they have been watching and think we are a couple of old dobblers and that they’ll try and have a go.
“It doesn’t bother me. I get mad rather than upset.”
Dorothy added: “The figures show more people are taking notice of what to do if they are approached, like us. I always tell people to keep their chains on their door and not let anyone in, and to ask for ID. I shout at Bob if he forgets.
“People should never be embarrassed to come forward because it is a terrible thing, and these criminals upset a lot of people.
“It’s not only the fact they are trying to get in, it’s what they could do once they are in. “
Anyone with information about scams or bogus callers should call police on 0845 1 253545 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or seek advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.