Salford City Council and GMP warned residents about a new fraud scheme that offers people to ‘save’ them from a non – existing fine.
Scammers are distributing fake letters with Salford City Council logo on them throughout the city, saying residents are up for a hefty fine.
Two men posing as council workers tried to con a man out of £650, claiming they were sparing him from a larger bill.
Local resident Steve Johnson* set the alarm off after two men pretending to work for the council tried to con him out of £650.
Initially, he received a few letters with the council logo on them, saying trees in his garden were overhanging the footpath and he was up for a fine, unless he takes action immediately.
Mr Johnson said: “It all looked very official. I was about to get the work done, but the scammers came to the house.”
The 48 – year – old NHS worker said one of the men looked around 40 with grey/white hair and a short, cropped, grey beard, while the other seemed to be in his 30s. Both men were about five feet 10 inches tall.
Mr Johnson said the two scammers claimed to be from the council and were there to serve a fine, but since the occupier was at the house they offered to cut the trees for him for a small fee.
He continued: “I let them do the work, I even made them coffee but it wasn’t done to a good standard and when they said £650 and that I could pay them weekly, alarm bells started ringing.”
The victim then also noticed the men were not wearing any identity badges, did not have the council logo on their jackets and were driving a plain white van.
He said: “I gave them £200 which was all I had and asked them for a receipt. They said they would come back next week with the paperwork. They were so professional, they caught me on the hop. I’m wiser now but I would hate for other people to get ripped off which is why I’m speaking out.”
After he got suspicious, Mr Johnson took the van registration number and contacted Salford City Council’s trading standards team straight away.
Councillor Gena Merrett, executive lead member for housing and environment, praised him for coming forward. She said: “This is a nasty scam and we have launched an investigation to track down these men and bring them to justice. I’d urge everyone to be on their guard and to keep a watchful eye on elderly or vulnerable family, friends and neighbours so scammers can’t prey on them.”
A representative of GMP said they were also helping the council with the investigation and are optimistic they will catch the scammers.
In the meanwhile the police advise residents to only deal with traders they have contacted and trust and never give money away at their door. GMP also remind people to always as for ID and then check it though the organisation’s official number, and when in doubt, call for help.