Warning issued after Falkirk woman loses £32k to rogue traders

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Falkirk residents are being warned to beware of rogue traders following a scam where a woman lost £32,000.

Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) has raised the alarm after discovering that local householders are among those who have lost more than £60,000 to fraudsters in just six months.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, handed over the cash for roof repairs after being threatened by rogue traders who tried to triple her bill.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

TSS is running a nationwide 'Shut out Scammers' campaign with Police Scotland designed to raise awareness about the risks of accepting work offered by cold callers.

A ‘Shut out Scammers’ campaign awareness van is touring Scotland.A ‘Shut out Scammers’ campaign awareness van is touring Scotland.
A ‘Shut out Scammers’ campaign awareness van is touring Scotland.

Experts said that fraudsters are adapting their tactics to exploit the cost-of-living crisis, including making bogus claims to be working on behalf of the government with fake subsidy offers or with local councils.

Criminals often employ online and social media ads featuring misleading information and reviews.

Figures from TSS show that between December last year and May this year, a total of £64,150 was lost by 15 households in Falkirk and Stirling. The average amount lost over the six-month period was £4,277.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In each case, rogue traders cold called the occupiers and offered to carry out work related to roofing, gardening, driveways, or general maintenance.

Councillor Maureen Chalmers: 'Vigilance vital'.Councillor Maureen Chalmers: 'Vigilance vital'.
Councillor Maureen Chalmers: 'Vigilance vital'.

They charged upfront before either leaving without completing the work or not starting at all.

In Falkirk, two men visited a woman’s home, offering to inspect her roof with a drone. They claimed urgent repairs were needed and quoted £12,000, which she paid.

Over the next few days, they demanded an extra £20,000, telling her they had found more problems. Intimidated by the men, she paid a total of £32,000.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The men then hiked the quote to £42,000 without explanation.

Councillor Maureen Chalmers: 'Vigilance vital'Councillor Maureen Chalmers: 'Vigilance vital'
Councillor Maureen Chalmers: 'Vigilance vital'

She refused further work and contacted trading standards.

Councillor Maureen Chalmers, chair of Trading Standards Scotland’s governance board, said: "Scammers are constantly adapting their tactics to take advantage of people, especially when many households in Falkirk are struggling to make ends meet with the cost-of-living crisis.

"So, it is more important than ever to remain vigilant and be on your guard. With our campaign and van, we aim to equip people with the tools and confidence to spot scams effectively.

"We urge consumers not to deal with cold callers and to seek local traders who have been vetted by Trading Standards and who have made a commitment to treat customers fairly via approved trader schemes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Do plenty of research into companies before agreeing to any work being undertaken, remembering that online adverts can be misleading and that reviews can be faked.

"It is advisable to check at least three different review sites and to get more than one quote for a piece of work.

"We are also asking people to look out for family members, friends, and neighbours and to report any suspicious behaviour to stop the scammers in their tracks."

TSS stressed the importance of conducting thorough research into companies before agreeing to any work.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It added that if someone claims to be working for or with a local council, householders should ask them to wait outside and close the door while they call the council to verify their identity.

Customers should also check at least three different review sites and obtain more than one quote for a piece of work.

Consumers are advised against dealing with cold callers and encouraged to seek reputable local traders, with vetted options available on the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS) approved trader portal at www.approvedtrader.scot.

Anyone caught out by a scam or suspicious activity should report it using the national advice service Advice Direct Scotland’s tool at www.consumeradvice.scot or contact 0808 164 6000 for support.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Victims of fraud should report it to Police Scotland on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

TSS is also urging people to check in with their older relatives to ensure that that they are aware of these scams.

As part of the campaign, a scam awareness team has been visiting Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert and Tesco in Alloa this week.

Police and trading standards officers were on hand to provide advice on avoiding doorstep scams, along with resources such as ‘no cold calling’ stickers and information leaflets.