Rogue traders and doorstep sellers across the country targeted in a UK wide week of action

Members of Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards team have spent the past week targeting rogue traders in attempt to disrupt their activities and promote awareness of the financial harm and misery they can bring.

It is the 13th year in a row that the team have joined forces with other agencies to help raise awareness of the issue through a co-ordinated UK-wide operation.

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Led by Cornwall Trading Standards with assistance from Devon and Cornwall Police, officers conducted mobile patrols targeting suspects  who were known to be operating in the county, as well as conducting residential patrols in areas frequently targeted by rogue traders. 

This type of crime is a UK wide problem and evidence suggests that rogue traders share information to repeatedly target some of our most vulnerable residents.

They will often travel large distances to commit offences and in some cases are known to employ slave labour to carry out the work, highlighting the need for a shared approach nationally within Trading Standards and the Police.

Leanne McLean, lead officer for doorstep crime said, “Rogue traders prey on the most vulnerable in society, conning them out of vast sums of money, for unnecessary and overpriced work. When someone falls foul of a rogue trading scam, research shows that it has a significant  detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence. 

Operation Rogue Trader aims to catch offenders and disrupt their activity as well as highlighting the dangers of rogue trading and doorstep crime. As you can imagine, those involved in this form of illegal activity do not tend to be law abiding citizens in other aspects of their life. By working with Devon and Cornwall Police, we can  help educate the public, gather valuable intelligence and disrupt their criminal activity. The aim is to rid rogue traders from our streets and make Cornwall’s communities safer.”

Councillor Sue James said, “Our Trading Standards team continue to combat the crimes associated with cold calling home maintenance traders and professional doorstep fraudsters. Cornwall Council will take robust enforcement in these cases, to provide a meaningful sanction and deterrent.

“Where possible, we will seek to recover the criminal proceeds in order to refund the victims. Working closely with partners in the Police and Adult Social Care, Trading Standards ensures those at risk of victimisation and exploitation are safeguarded and that those responsible for the crimes are brought to justice. 

“Operation Rogue Trader is a key part of the strategy to proactively tackle this type of crime, and intelligence sharing and joint initiatives between Trading Standards and the Police will ensure that there are no hiding places for the criminals.”

Activities during the week ranged from training the Royal Mail sorting office in St Austell on how to identify postal scams, to identifying vehicles used by criminals through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and conducting intelligence-led patrols in areas where older or vulnerable people live.

The team also acted on real time intelligence from the Police, Trading Standards Officers and consumers; as well as conducting a joint mobile patrol with Devon and Cornwall Police teams. Over 250 residents were advised on how to keep themselves safe at home from rogue traders and over 400 leaflets distributed, including our Buy With Confidence ‘Trading Standards Approved’ directory  of approved traders.

It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door and legitimate callers will not mind if you shut and lock the door while you verify that they are genuine. Rogue traders often offer gardening work or maintenance services at attractive rates but the quality of work is substandard, unnecessary or overpriced. They often use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions.

The message from Trading Standards is a simple one – genuine traders DO NOT call door to door without an appointment. If you aren’t sure who they are, don’t open the door.

People should report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 04 05 06.

Posted 12 October 2018