Conman tricks pensioner

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A ROGUE workman escorted a pensioner to a cash machine to get paid for shoddy work he never finished.

Police today launched an appeal to track down the con artist who struck at the 73-year-old woman’s house on Ascroft Avenue, Beech Hill last Tuesday afternoon.

The victim was at home when the man knocked on her door at about 1.15pm, claiming to be an “odd job” man. He offered to cut her hedges, which were overgrown, and take her couch to the skip for a fee of £80.

After using garden shears to cut a small number of bushes – to an unsatisfactory standard – the stranger asked for his money. As the woman did not have any cash in the house, he accompanied her to the local shops, where she withdrew the £80 from a cashpoint.

He took the money and gave her his first name as John, and his mobile phone number, promising she would get a receipt.

When she called him minutes later, he said he would come round later to finish the job, and with the receipt, but has never returned to the woman’s house, and has refused to call the pensioner back.

The caller is described as white, about 5ft 8ins tall, of stocky build and in his late 40s. He was said to have thinning brown hair, and was wearing jeans and a blue anorak.

Det Con Andrew Doran, from the Wigan Priority Crime Team, said: “It is quite clear this man took advantage of this woman’s good nature. Under the pretext of cutting her hedges – which he did to a very poor standard – he basically conned her into giving him cash for nothing.

“To some, £80 might not seem a lot, but to other people it is a lot of money, and quite apart from the amount of cash, the principle of conning an elderly member of our community out of her money is very cowardly, and he needs to be caught.

“I am firstly appealing to anyone who recognises the man from the description above to call us. If you think you have seen such a man operating in your community, or has come knocking on your door, then please report it to police immediately.

“Secondly, I want to alert residents in our area that this sort of scam might be going on, so they can be on their guard.

“Should any cold-callers come asking for work, please ensure you have a written or oral contract in place before the work starts, and it is especially important you do not give any money until the work has been completed to your satisfaction.

“Reputable tradesmen will also be happy to show you identification, and for an agreed contract to be put in place before they begin work.”

Anyone with information should call Greater Manchester Police on 0161 856 7242 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.