GARDAÍ ARE INVESTIGATING after a Dublin pensioner was conned out of over €3,000 in the capital by rogue traders.
Officers have launched a crackdown on the practices in Cork in recent weeks. However, it is understood more resources are to be given to the capital to tackle the scourge of criminals targeting vulnerable members of the public.
Last week, we reported how officers have identified 50 people they believe are targeting older and more vulnerable people with bogus home repair services.
In many circumstances, gardaí believe that these rogue operators are intentionally damaging private property so they can offer their ‘repair’ services.
It is believed some of the same traders are coming to Dublin and are targeting older people in Glasnevin, Finglas and Drumcondra.
In one instance in the capital, a woman was charged over €3,300 for guttering services and then another €800 to clean the roof of her home.
During this incident, the daughter of the victim explained, the men took her mother to an ATM in their van when she said she didn’t have the money to hand.
Whilst no official statement has been taken in this instance, community gardaí in the Dublin 7 and 9 areas are now warning older people to beware of people offering home repairs without adequate identification.
A daughter of the woman who was conned into paying for her gutters to be replaced explained that the men arrived at her mother’s home and carried out shoddy work.
She told TheJournal.ie: “I’m furious about it all. She’s on her own, a widow in her late 70s. She’s in great health but gone a bit dotty like everyone in their older years.
“My dad was a builder his whole life. Mam has a thing about builders being hard-working family men trying to fo a fair day’s work but these are different.”
The pensioner got a piece of paper through her door saying the handymen were in the area and were available for “odd jobs”. The woman rang the UK mobile number to find three men, who she believed were from Cork, at her door who said they would take a look at her guttering, as arranged.
She was quoted a price of €2,500 which she believed to be a legitimate price for the work.
The woman handed over €2,300 in cash and the men promised to finish the job when they returned the following week.
It was at this point that a neighbour of the woman called the pensioner’s daughter to say there were construction workers taking money from her mother. The daughter immediately became worried.
A community garda arrived following a phone call from the daughter. He spoke to the workers who said they were carrying out a job, as requested, from the pensioner. The garda asked that the workers bring their VAT book as well as other identifying information to Finglas Garda Station, which they didn’t.
Weeks later, another group of men started carrying out works on the home of the woman’s next-door neighbour. They had similar accents and the woman believed she recognised one of the men.
Her neighbours were getting their guttering cleaned. One of the workers then spoke to the woman who had been targeted previously and told her that her guttering needed fixing, despite the fact that she had paid out €2,300 a few weeks previously.
They looked at her house and told her she “needed to have her roof cleaned” and it would cost €800.
While the work was being carried out, she was told by the men that a family member of theirs had passed away and they needed to head back down to Cork. They added that they needed the cash. The pensioner said she did not have the money on her. It was at this point the worker told her to get into his van and that he would drive her to an ATM.
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The woman’s daughter explained: “He drove her up to the village and asked ‘do you have a credit union account’. My mam asked why and he said just in case you couldn’t get the cash out of the ATM.”
A number of older people have also been targeted by workers such as these in recent weeks. Gardaí in north Dublin believe the same group of men are targeting older people and carrying out work that is not needed.
In Cork, additional resources have been deployed in the city to tackle the traders. Detectives have also been appointed to the operation.
However, gardaí want the public to report any incident of this type occurring so officers can investigate them properly.
ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, issued a warning for older people to be aware of scam artists and rogue traders amid the pandemic.
Gardaí have reported numerous hoaxes in recent weeks in which ‘rogue traders’ intentionally damage private property and then target vulnerable groups such as older people with bogus ‘home repair services’.
The organisation has stated that this is an ongoing issue for older people all year round, which has only been exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ALONE said it receives calls about ‘rogue traders’ consistently throughout the year, and are reminding older people to reach out to them for support if they require advice and further information. Many callers get in touch for advice on contractors and are quite vigilant when making a choice.
The organisation has urged members of the public to keep an eye on their older neighbours and relatives, and to check in on them regularly. ALONE are also encouraging members of the public to report any suspicious activity in their community to An Garda Síochána, who will carry out a full investigation.