March 12 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Monday, February 17, 2014
A group of conmen posing as a drainage company have scammed an Ilford pensioner out of £5,000.
Police officers will be holding a public meeting on March 10 for residents concerned by the scam.
Wilson Chowdhury, of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said he also invited Trading Standards officers to the event.
Anyone is welcome to the meeting starting at 7pm at the Clementswood/Mayfield Community Centre in Connaught Road, Ilford.
Len Smith, 66, said he was visited by men posing as workmen from a company called Drain Free on January 31.
“I had a knock at the door and a guy said they were clearing drains in the area and they had been contracted by the government,” he said.
“They said they needed to use a special machine but I needed to put a deposit down.
“I’d never heard of anything like that but they said I would get the money back.”
The “deposit” Len had to pay was a staggering £2,500 and as he did not have it in the house, he was driven by the bank to withdraw cash.
No work started later that afternoon as promised and the next day the company returned saying they needed to do the back garden as well as the front, demanding another £2,500.
Len, who lives alone in Green Lane, was again driven to the bank to withdraw the money and handed it over in cash.
He said: “I was a fool – I know that now – but they put me under so much pressure and I thought I would just get it done.”
But he became suspicious the following Monday, February 3, when the fraudsters made an astronomical request for £23,000.
Len was told it was for another, even bigger machine, needed to complete the supposed work that had not even started.
“I thought they were joking,” he said. “But a woman on the phone said if I didn’t have the work done they would have to remove me from the house.
“I was on the way to the bank and I smelt a rat and went to the police station.”
The number given by a man posing as a contractor to Len cannot be reached and he has not heard from the company since he denied their last demand.
He does not know whether he will see his money again.
Redbridge Police do not know if the gang have conned other residents and are warning people to be wary of cold callers.
They are appealing for anyone with information on the fake drainage company to call 101.
Anyone faced with a persistent caller should shut the door and dial 999.