Relatives of a vulnerable Sheffield pensioner have spoken out after ‘despicable’ rip-off builders scammed £30,000 from him.
The 84-year-old man, of Ecclesall, was so frightened he did not tell his family. He was scared of being a burden.
The rogue traders are still out there and have yet to be caught.
The victim’s niece, Diane Scarr, has spoken out to warn other people to be on their guard.
She said: “I dread to think how long it would have gone on for. We’re a small family and he wasn’t even comfortable talking to us as he’s a very quiet, private man. He didn’t want to be a burden and thought we were all too busy.”
A stranger knocked on his door and told him he needed repair work doing to his property.
The victim agreed to have a small amount of work done on his driveway and some pointing to brickwork – and then the builders demanded £4,000 in cash.
He emptied one of his bank accounts at a branch on Ecclesall Road and was heading into Sheffield city centre to try to withdraw the rest from another account when he fell and was taken to hospital with serious facial injuries.
A concerned neighbour alerted the family, who then discovered why he had been at the bank.
His family were worried he might be suffering from the onset of dementia and, while helping him sort his financial affairs, uncovered what had been going on.
Dianne said what they discovered was horrifying.
She said: “Understandably, after his fall, my uncle was in a very agitated state.
“His memory wasn’t good, he was very confused, and we went through his paperwork to see what had been happening.
“It was evident, the more I looked at the bank statements, that this had been going on for five or six years.
“Repeated substandard work had been done on the house and he had paid out around £30,000 in cash.
“There’s cement work that has been done which has lifted straight away, appalling new windows that have holes around the edges where they haven’t been filled properly, bits of gardening – all sorts.
“The bank apparently had their suspicions about what was happening, as people would go down to the branch with him as he drew the cash out.
“The bank had been giving him leaflets about being a victim of fraud, but my uncle was so frightened that he carried on paying these people.
“When we reported this to Trading Standards they were brilliant.
“They came round to see us, spoke to my uncle, and put practical measures in place such as CCTV cameras.
“He’s moved out now, into new accommodation elsewhere, but this has taken a massive toll on him.
“He was so frightened of running out of money and not being able to pay these people that he didn’t want to go home.
“This has been an incredibly difficult year.
“The sort of people who do this, and prey on the elderly and vulnerable, are absolutely despicable.”