Conman tricks frail pensioner out of £50

PUBLISHED: 06:14 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 09:56 31 May 2010

AN ELDERLY man was conned out of £50 after a bogus handyman offered to do some gardening at his home in Saffron Walden on Friday morning (October 20). The 85-year-old, of Ross Close, answered his door to a man who said he could trim back some of his overg

AN ELDERLY man was conned out of £50 after a bogus handyman offered to do some gardening at his home in Saffron Walden on Friday morning (October 20).

The 85-year-old, of Ross Close, answered his door to a man who said he could trim back some of his overgrown trees for £100 between 10.30am and 11.30am.

But after agreeing to pay the man £50 in cash upfront, the victim, who is in poor health, never saw the conman again.

Saffron Walden Sgt Ashley Seymour said the con was a despicable and heartless crime.

"It's a particularly distasteful type of crime because the perpetrator is well aware that elderly people can be extremely vulnerable," he said.

"If any other elderly people are approached regarding having work done on their property in this way then there is every chance it could be bogus.

"Legitimate companies will never cold call and demand payment before a job has been completed.

"If anyone has any concerns whatsoever about the legitimacy of a person calling at their door, then do not agree to have any work done."

The victim only had £50 in the house and Sgt Seymour said the swindler told the gentleman a convincing story.

"Having agreed a price, the conman said he had left his van at the bottom of the road but would come back straight away to carry out the work," he said.

"Once he had taken the elderly gentleman's money he left the property and never returned."

A spokesman for Age Concern said elderly people should always take care when answering the front door.

"Most people who knock on your door will be genuine callers but you can not always be sure," he said.

"Put the door chain or bar on first before opening, especially if you are not expecting a caller and never keep large amounts of cash in the house.

"Always ask friends or relatives to recommend gardeners and builders they have used before.

"Always ring the police if you believe a bogus caller has paid you a visit."

The con artist is described as white, about 5'10" tall and in his 40s. He had a clear, pale complexion, was clean shaven and had short and very dark brown hair. He was wearing a brown pullover and brown trousers.

Sgt Seymour added: "A white van with a cage on the back was seen parked nearby on the morning and we want to hear from anyone who saw it.

Police are urging anyone who was visited by a man matching the description last Friday to call PC Jane Mangnall on 01799 513232.

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