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Pensioner loses £7k savings to conmen

By Hannah McLaverty-Williamson, on 9 December 2010

Consumers are being encouraged to take the time to find a recommended tradesman rather than "pour money down the drain" by hiring bogus workmen, after a pensioner lost £7,000 in a scam.

Trading Standards have issued the warning after the incident in east Belfast where the pensioner fell victim to rogue traders. Conmen approached the woman and told her that a blockage in her drains needed to be fixed as a matter of urgency because it was causing problems in another street.

The victim paid them £7,750 in cash, but later discovered that the problem did not exists and that she had been duped out of all her savings.

Mary McKeown from Trading Standards told BBC News: "Rogue traders frequently pressurise householders to hand over cash by convincing them that their homes require urgent repair work. In this particular case the trader even lifted up a drain close to the lady's home to show her the alleged blockage."

"After paying the full amount, the elderly lady queried the price as she thought it was too expensive. The workmen informed her that special parts were required and implied that the job was cheap as they were already working in the area."

Homeowners are being urged not to feel pressured into agreeing to repair work with strangers on the doorstep. Mrs McKeown also advised homeowners to research their consumer rights.

"Always seek a second opinion from a trusted person and do not agree to a trader starting any work straight away. Reputable traders will allow a customer to take time to come to a decision. The law states that, where goods or services cost over £35, consumers are entitled to a seven day cooling-off period during which they can cancel the contract."

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