The Scotsman

Fraud­sters re­turn to ‘tra­di­tional’ scams

● Un­scrupu­lous traders switch their at­ten­tion to sea­sonal out­door work

- By JANE BRADLEY Con­sumer Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent jane.bradley@scots­ Seychelles · Sao Tome and Principe · International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement · Rogue Traders

Door steps ca mm er shave moved from Covid-19 scams to “more tra­di­tional” at­tempts at fraud such as pre­tend­ing to sell gar­den fur­ni­ture, of­fer­ing pres­sure wash­ing of roofs and drive­ways and promis­ing to carry out weed­ing work, trad­ing stan­dards of­fi­cials have warned.

Dur­ing the corona virus lock­down, of­fi­cials found that sc a mm er st urn ed to fraud re­lat­ing to the pan­demic, such as sell­ing fake test­ing kits or sup­ple­ments door to door which claimed to help cure the virus.

How­ever, as the lo ck­down eases, crim­i­nals have re­sorted to tried and tested meth­ods, such as claim­ing they had ex­cess prod­ucts left over from a pre­vi­ous job and of­fer­ing to in­stall drive­ways, of­fer­ing to clean moss from roofs, car­ry­ing out gar­den main ten­ance then hik­ing the price at the end, and in­stalling sub­stan­dard wa­ter­proof­ing on drive­ways.

The ex­am­ples have been recorded through the S cam Share ini­tia­tive from Trad­ing Stan­dards Scot­land, which asks peo­ple across Scot­land to share their ex­pe­ri­ences.

Fi on a Richard­son, chief of­fi­cer of Trad­ing Stan­dards Scot­land, said: “As lock­down has eased, we have seen a move from doorstep scams re­lated to Covid-19 to more tra­di­tional scams where rogue traders of­fer to carry out property and gar­den main­te­nance.

“Rogue traders go to great lengths to ap­pear le­git­i­mate by advertisin­g through glossy leaflets and pro­fes­sional- look­ing web­sites and ob­tain­ing ve­hi­cles and work­wear with a com­pany logo.”

She added: “We have worked with Po­lice Scot­land and other part­ners through­out the sum­mer on the‘ Shut out Scam­mers’ cam­paign to dis­rupt rogue traders, pro­tect con­sumers and raise aware - ness of th­ese scams.

“Trad­ing Stan­dards staff across Scot­land con­tinue to work to iden­tify and dis­rupt scams and to pro­tect Scot­tish con­sumers.”

Dur­ing the height of the pan­demic, Trad­ing Stan­dards of­fi­cers also re­ported com­pa­nies of­fer­ing to“clean se” prop­er­ties of Covid-19 and of fraud­sters cold calling house­holds and pos­ing as NHS or Red Cross staff.

Marjorie Gibson, head of op­er­a­tions with Scot­land’ s na­tional con­sumer ad­vice ser­vice, con­sumer ad­vice. scot, said :“Bo­gus traders op­er­ate all year round, but it is a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem at this time of year. They know that peo­ple might be tempted by cheap jobs around the home and gar­den be­fore the sum­mer ends.

“Un­for­tu­nately, this has led to peo­ple be­ing de­frauded of their hard- earned cash, and peo­ple need to be aware of this risk. It is par­tic­u­larly de­spi­ca­ble that th­ese crim­i­nals tar­get vul­ner­a­ble and el­derly res­i­dents. Our ad­vis­ers can of­fer tips on what warn­ing signs to look for and how to check a ser­vice or trader is le­git­i­mate.

She added: “You should only use trades peo­ple you abso - lutely trust, and most rep­utable pro­fes­sion­als won’t have to knock on doors to get work.

“The best ad­vice is to not re­spond to un­so­licited of­fers un­less you’re ab­so­lutely sure it’s le­git­i­mate, and not to give away money on the doorstep.”

“You should only use trades­peo­ple you ab­so­lutely trust, and most rep­utable pro­fes­sion­als won’t have to knock on doors to get work” MARJORIE GIBSON con­sumer ad­

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