CHESHIRE Police are urging people to be vigilant after an elderly resident was talked into giving rogue traders a large quantity of cash.

The victim received a leaflet through her door advertising services such as tree and hedge cutting and landscaping work.

She called the company advertised and subsequently received a quote for landscaping work in her back garden.

After handing over a large cash deposit for the work to a man claiming to be a company employee, he cut back a bush in her garden and cleared some rubbish.

He then left the address and agreed to return with colleagues three days later to continue the work.

However, on Saturday, February 8, the victim, who lives in the Heath area of Runcorn, received a phone call saying that the work would cost considerably more money.

She agreed to pay the company a further large sum, doing so via a bank transfer.

The victim has not heard anything from the company since.

Inspector Fez Khan, of Runcorn Local Policing Unit, said: “Unfortunately incidents such as this are becoming increasingly common, with rogue traders targeting vulnerable people and trying to get as much money from them as possible.

“Rogue traders often appear to be highly professional. They can have printed leaflets and vehicles branded with their company name, making people think they are legitimate.

“They often use highly pressurised selling techniques to convince victims to use their services and charge exorbitant prices for work of a poor standard, or work that is never carried out.

“Enquiries in relation to the case in Runcorn are ongoing, in a bid to identify who took the victim’s money and have it returned to her, and I want to take this opportunity to urge people living in Runcorn or anywhere else in Cheshire to be vigilant and to contact the police if they believe that a rogue trader is taking advantage of them or someone they know.

“Call us on 101 or give the details via, and also give the details to the trading standards department at your local council.

“I ask people to look out for any elderly or vulnerable neighbours by checking on their welfare and reporting any suspicious activity to the police.

“I also encourage people to follow our advice on how to avoid falling victim to a rogue trader.”

Cheshire Constabulary’s advice is:

• Professional looking leaflets or advertisements are not indications of traders being reputable with all the relevant documentation – check whether traders are members of the Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme or the Government’s TrustMark scheme

• If you feel that improvement or maintenance work needs carrying out at your property, discuss this with a relative or a friend who can help you find a reputable trader

• Get quotes from a number of traders before agreeing to have work done, to ensure that you are not overcharged

• Ask for quotes in writing

• It is wise to get quotes from around four different traders to check that the prices quoted are fair

• Do not let anyone pressure you into having work done

• Never agree to have work done unless you have seen examples of the trader’s work

• Do not pay cash up front and never go to the bank or to a cashpoint with a trader

• Make sure that you get contact details and the address of any business you are considering for work at your property – if possible, visit the premises to check that it exists

• Do not be fooled by someone who says that they are just working up the street or that they have done work for your neighbour – ask for specific examples and then follow up to check if what they have said is true

• If someone calls at your home trying to sell you something, do not let them in and ask for ID

• Always check the identity of doorstep callers by telephoning the company they are claiming to be from – use the number listed in your local phonebook or on the company’s website, never use a number the doorstep caller gives you.