Police are issuing a warning after a series of people have been scammed by fraudsters pretending to be from Dyno-Rod drain company.
More than 20 victims have reported incidents with similar circumstances, since the start of January, to police across Sussex.
The majority of victims are elderly and have occurred in Brighton and Hove, but the police want to warn all residents of Sussex about the scam.
Typically, the fraudsters will knock on the door and tell the victims they need emergency work. The victims will then be asked to transfer money to the fraudsters or hand over their bank details. Money is taken from the victims’ accounts for work that is not carried out.
A 73-year-old victim from Hove said he was defrauded out of £2,000 through the scam.
A man knocked at the door on January 25 to advise that he was working on nearby drains and may need access via the victim’s property.
The victim thought nothing of it.
A while later, a different man attended the victim’s property, stating that they were from Dyno-Rod, displaying an ID badge briefly. He then said emergency works needed to be carried out on the victim’s property and that the fee for this would be £25.
After the victim agreed, the man stated that they could not accept cash, and persuaded the victim to give his bank card and pin number.
The suspect went away with his card, however came back saying that the details were incorrect. The victim then gave him another card, along with his full name and date of birth to be able to withdraw the cash.
Over a period of time, £2,000 was taken from the victim’s account.
The victim said: “It’s terrible that they do this to people, I lost £2,000. The first man looked like a genuine hard-working man and the second looked official with a hanging black badge, but I didn’t look at it very carefully.
“I get these scams sometimes via email about the TV licensing or property and normally I can smell them a mile away. You have to be so careful, they really did fool me it’s really unpleasant.
“The PCSO who came to my house has helped me go ex-directory and I’ve taken out ID cover – I need to be protected from this sort of thing.”
PC Bernadette Lawrie, BEM, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Surrey and Sussex Police said: “This impersonator fraud scam is a disgraceful way of defrauding the victims of their cash and we are determined to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Please be vigilant about anyone who comes to the door asking for personal or financial information. Never give your bank details, transfer money to those you don’t know or trust or give your PIN number or other sensitive information to strangers.
“If you are in doubt about a situation, close the door and call police. If something doesn’t sound right, don’t feel pressured to make a snap decision on matters relating to your finances. Trust your instincts.
“Alternatively, speak with a trusted friend or family member and get their advice on whether you should go through with any action that could impact you financially.”
If you have been a victim of this crime or have any information that could help with our enquiries, please report online or call 101.
For further advice on fraud prevention, and information on Operation Signature, the work done by Sussex Police to prevent fraud and support vulnerable victims, see the force website here.