An elderly man with dementia was conned into giving ‘phoney’ tradesmen £6,300 after they visited his Linslade home and “manipulated” him.
Son and daughter, Tony and Gill, are issuing a stern warning to Leighton-Linslade residents, after two men purporting to be workmen turned up at their poorly father’s house and persuaded the 71-year-old to let them carry out garden and tiling work.
The siblings allege that the men drove him into the High Street at 4.30pm on Monday, September 10, asking him to withdraw £2,000 from his bank, NatWest.
However, after texts from their father raised alarm bells, Gill called the ‘tradesmen’ on the Tuesday morning, but despite realising they were rumbled, she claims the pair quickly drove her father into town and told him to withdraw a further £4,000 from the bank, and £300 from the NatWest cash point.
Tony claims: “We’re pretty perturbed, I mean, it’s a bit of a wake up call to quite how quickly our father’s condition has deteriorated in terms of his ability to recall and his self-management.
“Our father remembers only one of two journeys to the bank. We know at one point the men parked near the Post Office and that after the withdrawal they were in the van outside the bank, but this could be the Monday [4.30pm] or the Tuesday [10.30am] as the trips are merged in his memory.
“The question of the work – butchering a few conifers and caking a sandstone mix sloppily over some roof tiles – is not the criminal aspect.
“Their true goal is to use this theatre as a pretence toward pressuring the victim into driving into town with them and withdrawing the maximum cash sum they think they can get away with.
“I don’t know whether my father was intimidated or manipulated [manipulated with shame or embarrassment or otherwise tricked into compliance].”
The men were allegedly leafleting in the Southcott area and Tony says the neighbours reported that the duo took on two roles: one played a “presentable” salesman character, who knocked on people’s doors to negotiate deals. The other man was believed by some to be waiting in the van while the door-to-door visits took place, while others are unsure where he was located during this activity.
Residents described them to Gill and Tony as being of white heritage and “local sounding”, also claiming that they use both an unmarked white transit and a black pick-up vehicle, going by different names, such as ‘John’ and ‘Joe’.
However, the siblings are also concerned about NatWest’s safeguarding policy.
Tony claimed: “NatWest have raised the incident with their fraud team and branch staff appear to be remorseful and taking the incident seriously. But questions still remain as to how a senior citizen was permitted to withdraw such a large cash sum, not once but twice, without a flag being raised, or why their register to flag fraud - £5,000 apparently - is set so ludicrously high.
“The two men are manipulative, convincing and audacious. They are also methodical insofar as they have a working knowledge of the fraud-flagging sums for each bank and know to work narrowly within them.”
Tony and Gill allege that the company the men claim to work for was registered with Companies House between 2015 and 2016 and is now dissolved.
However, they have no way of knowing whether the two men are connected to that company or just using its details for the scam.
A Central Beds Council spokeswoman, said: “We were very sorry to learn about this incident. Our Trading Standards team will assist the police in any way we can, and we are liaising with the victim’s family.”
A NatWest spokesman said: “We are currently investigating the circumstances. We do everything we can to help customers in vulnerable situations and have trained over 20,000 of our staff in the National Trading Standard Friends Against Scams.”
A Beds Police spokeswoman, said: “On Tuesday (September 11) we received a report of a suspected fraud, after two men carried out some work for an elderly man in the garden of his home in Linslade on Monday (September 10).
“The two men took the victim to a cash machine where he withdrew money and gave it to them. They returned the next day (September 11) and took the victim to the cash point again and took a further quantity of cash.”
An investigation is ongoing, and anyone with any information is asked to call 101 and quote reference 40/24183/18. Alternatively, report information by visiting www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report or call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.