Beware the smooth-talking conman

Sheila Norris

Sheila Norris

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DISTRESSED victims are warning Wigan residents to be vigilant after a smooth-talking conman took money from them in car parks.

The scammer has been accused on social media of a string of incidents involving approaching vulnerable people outside supermarkets in Leigh and Golborne.

When the victim deliberates, extreme pressure is put on them to part with their cash using a variety of intimidation techniques

Sheila Norris

The incidents involve a man coming up to shoppers, often women on their own, disabled or elderly people, and telling them his girlfriend has dumped him in the car park after a row and he needs cash for the bus or taxi fare home.

Victims have spoken of feeling intimidated as he would not leave them alone until they handed money over, although there is no suggestion of violence being used or threatened.

One Lowton resident, Sheila Norris, gave him £20 after being approached in the car park of Golborne’s Asda superstore on April 7.

Sheila, 56, said: “I was a bit distracted as my husband was going into hospital and I was at the supermarket to get some things for him.

“I was sat in my car and he just stuck his head in the window and wouldn’t move until I gave him money.

“I knew he was a conman because the amount of money he asked for wasn’t the right taxi fare to Warrington but he wouldn’t leave. He frightened me and I wanted him to go away. When the victim deliberates, extreme pressure is put on them to part with their cash using a variety of intimidation techniques.”

Sheila wrote about her experiences on a Facebook page dedicated to old Leigh photographs and soon found other people who had encountered him coming forward.

A lady who asked only to be named as Janet said she encountered him outside Iceland on Bradshawgate in Leigh in February but he did not get money from her as she had already been warned about him by internet forums.

She said: “When he approached me I knew it was an ongoing problem. He didn’t take anything off me but I’ve heard from the family of one elderly lady who he took a £20 note off.

“There’s been other cases where he’s offered mobile phones or cigarettes in exchange for money. Somebody will get hurt and I want to warn people.”

The offender is described as a white male in his 30s of average height and slim to medium build with short brown hair who is usually quite smartly dressed wearing a zipped jacket and jeans.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said if people gave him money willingly there was no crime committed.

However, despite concerns the man may not have committed a specific criminal offence, officers are urging shoppers to be vigilant.

A GMP spokesman said: “We would certainly warn people against handing over money to people they do not know and ask them to exercise caution.

“If they are approached by someone they feel is intending to con them out of money or they feel intimidated they should contact us so we can try to act on it.”

To report incidents, ring GMP on the non-emergency number 101.