Council chairman warns of scam threat after helping Sutton Bridge pensioner avoid losing savings

Sutton Bridge, John Grimwood for Guardian feature
John sweeps pavements and empties bins that he fixed to bus shelter
Sutton Bridge, John Grimwood for Guardian feature John sweeps pavements and empties bins that he fixed to bus shelter
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A Sutton Bridge pensioner came within an hour of losing £4,600 from her bank account when doorstep “scammers” altered her cheque.

Parish council chairman John Grimwood and “a lady who looks after” the resident stopped the cheque by contacting the bank, a meeting heard this week.

Mr Grimwood said: “We got through at a quarter past two. If it had been a quarter past three it would have been too late.”

Speaking at Tuesday’s parish council meeting, which took place only hours after the scam was averted, Mr Grimwood warned other residents to be on their guard and to keep their doors locked so that they are not troubled by unwelcome callers.

He said the resident had maintenance work done by “some people” who persuaded her to simply write “46” on a cheque because the work had cost £46.

Mr Grimwood said the lady who looks after the resident alerted him.

He said: “It took in excess of two hours to get through to the bank, even going up to the local branch, which I don’t think was very good.

“Please make sure everyone is aware that this scam is going on.

“I am hoping the police will take it on and catch the people who are doing it.

“I think it’s despicable. They are taking advantage of an elderly resident in the village.

“We need to spread the word to make sure that nobody else is caught out.”

Police are investigating the incident and a spokesman advised residents to take heed of ActionFraud’s tips on dealing with doorstep callers.

These include: always ask for identification before letting anyone you don’t know into your house; check credentials, including a permanent business address and landline phone number; ask for references from previous customers or to see examples of their work; and don’t sign on the spot – shop around for at least three written quotes to make sure you’re not ripped off.

If in any doubt, ask the person to leave or you can call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506, which works in partnership with Trading Standards.

ActionFraud says if you’re suspicious, why not ask visitors if you can take their photograph on your mobile phone as genuine traders probably wouldn’t mind.