News item

Bank staff help stop resident from being conned out of £8,000

Police and Trading Standards officers moved quickly today (Tuesday 14 January) to save a resident from being conned out of £8,000.

The resident came into Lloyd’s TSB in High Street, Sutton, to withdraw the money after workmen told him that he needed to replace the wall coating work on his home in Sutton because it contained dangerous chemicals.

But staff at the branch felt the withdrawal request was out-of-character and suspicious - and with the permission of the customer - they called police and Trading Standards.

The alert call was made as part of the ‘Banking Protocols’ that have been rolled out by police and Trading Standards to all banks, building societies and Post Offices across the borough to combat elderly and vulnerable residents being tricked out of their money.

Police and Trading Standards managed to arrive at the branch in time to stop any money being withdrawn and paid to the workmen.

The victim, who is aged around 50, was visited at home on Monday 13 January at 17:00hrs by a man claiming to be a Trading Standards officer.

He flashed some ID and told the resident his wall covering was dangerous and would need replacing - and that he would get a telephone call later that day.

At 19:00hrs, he was telephoned to say the work would cost £14,000 - discounted to £8,000. He was told to go to his bank the next day, but not to tell staff what the money was for or to tell police.

The resident was due to get a call about the money from the workmen at 11:00hrs on Tuesday 14 January - but the alert to police and council was made earlier at around 09:20hrs.

In December 2013, detectives in Sutton issued an appeal to residents to be wary of a scam where they are ‘fined’ following building work on their home. Saying they are from Trading Standards or the Office of Fair Trading, callers state there has been an inappropriate disposal of their building debris including contaminated waste, such as asbestos. Residents are told they have to pay a ‘fine’. One female resident in her mid 80s in Wallington was conned out £12,500 in a number of money transfers following such a scam.

The ‘Banking Protocols’ have involved a total of 302 staff at 49 banks, building societies and Post Offices in Sutton being trained.
The training started in Sutton Town Centre in 2011 before being rolled out to Worcester Park, North Cheam, Cheam Village, Belmont, Wallington, Beddington, Carshalton and St Helier – with smaller branches at other locations being trained along the way.

During this time Trading Standards and Police have awarded three commendation certificates to vigilant staff who acted decisively to stop their customers being unnecessarily parted with their savings.

One such award went to staff at Lloyd’s TSB, High Street, Sutton where staff saved a male customer £16,000 when he came in to make a withdrawal to pay for minor roofing work.

Inspector Neil Tyre, who runs the Safer Neighbourhoods Teams in Sutton, said: “The Banking Protocols are a great example of organisations working together to protect elderly and vulnerable residents in the borough. We will respond quickly to such reports and will deal with offenders robustly.”

If you receive a call at your door from someone claiming to be a trading standards officer or other employee from the London Borough of Sutton, please call Sutton Council.

Sutton Council has a Safer Sutton Trader Scheme which seeks to help residents avoid bogus builders and unscrupulous traders.

Sutton Police urge residents to be vigilant. If you see anyone acting suspiciously in the street or around addresses, please call police immediately. Police would rather come out and check that everything is OK, rather than find someone has become a victim of crime.

DATE: 14 January 2014