Cold callers drove Swansea gran to cash machine to get £800
AN 82-year-old Swansea grandmother was conned out of £800 by cold callers who drove her to a cash machine and demanded the money.
Barbara Douglas was driven to Llanelli and told to get the money by men who claimed to have repaired her roof.
But, thanks to South Wales Police and Swansea Council Trading Standards officers, Mrs Douglas was reimbursed the full amount.
The pensioner is registered blind and suffers from early stage dementia.
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She had been waiting by her front door in Kingsbridge for a bus to a day centre on Thursday last week when she was approached by two men who told her the roof needed repairing and cleaning.
Mrs Douglas lives with her daughter Alison Walsh who said her mother agreed to let the men carry out the work and went off to her day centre.
Mrs Walsh said: "When she returned from the day centre at 3.30pm they apparently showed her the work and asked for £300, which she agreed to give them.
"They then drove her to Llanelli and parked at Asda, instructing my mother to get £800 from the bank, as by the time they arrived there they had convinced her that they had done additional work, cementing and repairing tiles."
Mrs Walsh said one of the men involved told her mother he would lose his job if he didn't get the money and had a wife and three small children to support.
She said: "They did not accompany her to the bank, and my mother struggles with mobility, barely able to walk to the end of our drive (she also has emphysema), but she felt she had to make the journey.
"By the time she got to Santander, she was gasping for breath and had to be helped to a seat and was fetched a glass of water.
"She struggled back to the waiting van with the cash before they cruelly dumped her back home, minus her £800.
"When I arrived home from work that evening, it was late and dark.
"I asked mum who had been at the house as my son had left me a message about mum paying some men for work. "Initially she told me she had paid them £300, which horrified me, but when I saw the bank withdrawal slip with the true amount I was incensed.
"I immediately rang the police who logged the incident and agreed to come out the following morning."
Mrs Walsh inspected the property and said it looked like a mud landslide had occurred.
She said: "From marks on the ground it appeared they had used a high pressure jet wash to clean the roof and all the muck and debris had been left surrounding the house."
Police officers arrived and phoned the men who carried out the work, stating they needed to return to the property.
Later that day Mrs Walsh said one of the men who carried out the work on the roof arrived with his solicitor.
The man offered to re-pay £500 but was instructed by Mrs Douglas's elder daughter, Susan Doherty, to pay all the money back in view of the mess and potential damage to the roof.
Mrs Walsh said: "The solicitor agreed that he would assist with the return of the money and this was paid back in two halves, £500 immediately and £300 an hour later.
"These men were able to charm my mother, a vulnerable elderly woman, into parting with a substantial sum of money.
"More worryingly, they had heartless disregard for her health in making her walk through town to get the cash which she is nowhere near fit enough to do."
A Swansea Council trading standards officer advised that the men had broken the law as they should not have undertaken any work immediately.
A spokesman for the council said: "We are very pleased to have been able to ensure Mrs Douglas did not suffer because of this cruel con.
"£800 is a lot of money for anyone to lose.
"The council and the police work hard to ensure unscrupulous cold callers do not get away with their efforts to prey on the vulnerable or the elderly.
"Cold callers who contact potential customers on the doorstep must provide a written notice containing Cancellation Rights, providing a seven-day cooling off period.
"However, if consumers decide to have work done within the cooling off period, they need to give their agreement in writing.
"If in doubt, consumers should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506 for further advice."
A spokesman for South Wales Police said: "Police were called to an incident in Kingsbridge where it is believed that an elderly lady was overcharged for some maintenance work carried out at her home.
"Following police enquiries those involved were traced and the lady had her money refunded."