An elderly woman was scammed out of £3,200 after rogue workmen followed her to a bank and demanded payment for a few minutes’ work at her home.
A man claimed he needed access to Thelma Devereux’s roof at her house on Fir Trees Avenue, Ribbleton, Preston, as he was working on a neighbouring property.
My mum just didn’t realise what was going on. She has been in a confused state and the other day she broke down in tears when I told her she had been robbed.Angela Phillipson
Shortly after, two more men took ladders around the back of the 73-year-old’s home, and found other “jobs” they claimed needed doing, including fixing a loose chimney stack and tiles.
The conmen were caught out, however, when vigilant bank staff became suspicious about Thelma’s repeated visits to her local branch to withdraw money to pay them.
The pensioner’s daughter, Angela Phillipson, said: “As soon as she opened her curtains they were straight round, knocking on her door.
“Because they said they needed to clear her gutter to continue work on next door’s house, she’s just agreed to it and then they’ve set about doing everything else.
“After only 10 minutes’ work they’ve then gone and demanded money from her.”
In a panic, Mrs Devereux drove to her local branch of Royal Bank of Scotland to draw out £3,000. She then handed over the money in the envelope in the car park to one of the workmen, who had followed her in his van.
“After she had handed the money over he told my mum that it wasn’t enough so sent her back in,” said Angela.
“She took out a further £200 and handed it over but he said, no you need to get me £1,800 more.”
On Mrs Devereux’s third visit to the Fulwood branch on March 25, a member of RBS staff became suspicious and asked her what they money was for and if she was being pressurised to withdraw the cash.
When she explained what they money was for, the bank teller went with her outside to confront the man, only to find that he had disappeared with the money.
Angela said: “My mum just didn’t realise what was going on. She has been in a confused state and the other day she broke down in tears when I told her she had been robbed.
“The van they were in is quite distinctive but it could be that they are working out of two vehicles and preying on vulnerable people.
“And when I asked my mum’s neighbour about the workmen who had been on her roof, she told me she hadn’t had any work done but had seen them on my mum’s roof.”
Lancashire Police are now investigating. A force spokesman said: “We are investigating an incident that occured sometime between 11am and 12pm on March 25.
“The man in question was a white male, around 5ft 4in with wavy blonde hair and was using a white van with the words ‘surveyor unit’ on the side.
“He was wearing jeans and is aged in his 40s.”
A spokesman from the Royal Bank of Scotland said: “These scammers tend to prey on the elderly and more vulnerable members of our community.
“Some pretend to be workmen. They call at the door of their targets and convince them that they need urgent and expensive repairs done to their house. They can be very pushy and we’ve heard of customers resorting to paying them to leave.
“Others pretend to be officials from the gas or electric company. They use a fake ID to gain entry to your house, usually with the sole intention of stealing from you.
“We’ve even found instances where the fraudsters pretend to be from a charity and ask you for donations of clothes, goods or money.
“You don’t have to let any stranger into your home. Don’t agree to sign a contract, hand over money or give out your bank details until you’ve spoken to someone you trust. And don’t be afraid to ask a salesperson to leave. If they refuse, call the police.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101.