Salford residents are being warned that scammers have branched out into gardening fraud.
Fake letters – with Salford City Council logos on – are being delivered throughout the city offering to do work to save people from paying out fines.
Two men posing as council workers tried to con a man out of £650, claiming they were sparing him from a larger bill.
Local resident Steve (not his real name) said he received a couple of letters claiming to be from Salford City Council about trees in his garden which were overhanging the footpath.
“The letters had Salford Council’s logo on and it all looked very official. It mentioned a fine if I didn’t take action so I got quotes from a couple of companies.
“I was about to get the work done but the scammers came to the house,” said the 48-year-old NHS worker.
The men were both around five feet 10 inches tall, one in his early 30s and one in his late 40s with grey/white hair and a short, cropped, grey beard.
“They claimed to be from the council. They said they were about to serve a fine but as I was there they would waive the fine and do the work for a small fee.
“I let them do the work, I even made them coffee but it wasn’t done to a good standard and when they said £650 and that I could pay them weekly, alarm bells started ringing.
“I also noticed they weren’t wearing identity badges, their high vis jackets had no council logo on and they were in a plain white van.
“I gave them £200 which was all I had and asked them for a receipt. They said they would come back next week with the paperwork.
“They were so professional, they caught me on the hop. I’m wiser now but I would hate for other people to get ripped off which is why I’m speaking out.”
Steve took the van registration number and contacted Salford City Council’s trading standards team straight away.
Councillor Gena Merrett, executive lead member for housing and environment, praised him for coming forward.
“This is a nasty scam and we have launched an investigation to track down these men and bring them to justice. I’d urge everyone to be on their guard and to keep a watchful eye on elderly or vulnerable family, friends and neighbours so scammers can’t prey on them,” she said.
Three top tips to beat the scammers
**Don’t hand over money on your doorstep. If anyone turns up at your home offering to do work, say no. Only deal with traders you have contacted and trust
**Ask for ID. If they claim to be from an organisation ask for their official ID and close the door while you phone to check. Don’t use the number they give you – always go through the official number.
**Call for help. If in doubt, call the police on 101 or trading standards on 03454 040506 – and if you have been conned, don’t be embarrassed to come forward. Your help could spare someone else.