A joint operation has been launched to crack down on rogue traders in Lincolnshire.
Police, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Environment Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have been joining forces with Lincolnshire Trading Standards to crack down on rogue trading in the county.
This week is National Operation Rogue Trader week which combines enforcement action with advice to residents on how to protect themselves.
Rogue traders and pushy doorstep sellers con vulnerable people by overcharging, charging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately, leaving work unfinished and intimidating behaviour in order to extort money, including escorting people to cash machines to withdraw money.
The multi-agency approach sees teams made up of staff from each organisation, combing the county, seeking out rogue traders. Having different agencies with various responsibilities allows effective and swift action to be taken against those who flout the law – providing a one stop show enforcement team to help prevent any potential offenders from slipping through the net.
Detective Inspector Andy Beaver for Lincolnshire Police urged people to help the operation by reporting any suspicious activity.
He said: “Rogue traders target the most vulnerable in our community using underhand tactics. You might not necessarily fall for them yourself but it might be that your elderly neighbour or relative could. That’s why we want people to report any suspicions about anyone living or working in your neighborhood. Your call could save further people from falling victim.
“Alarm bells should ring if a caller suggests work that you don’t think you need or does not agree a set price for the work.
“If you say you don’t have the cash to pay, a rogue trader may well persuade you to go to an ATM with them. A reputable tradesperson would never do this.
“These people have no scruples and when you consider that it is the most vulnerable people who fall victim, we hope you won’t need any further incentive to pick up the phone and report any suspicions you may have.
“It will help us to investigate if you make notes on the appearance and clothing of the suspect and take down any details of their vehicle.”
Tim Dawson, principal trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, added: “Doorstep crime can affect anyone, but most often it is the elderly and vulnerable who are targeted. Rogue traders can be very persuasive and convincing in their approach and it can be very distressing and frightening for an elderly or vulnerable person who is unaware of how to protect themselves.
“Tracking down and catching these rogue traders is an absolute priority for Lincolnshire County Council’s Trading Standards teams. Working with our partners, including Lincolnshire Police and HMRC, we are committed to working together to tackle this issue and will take appropriate enforcement action against those involved.”
Jane Miller from HMRC’s Hidden Economy Team, added: “This joint operation is just one of HMRC’s Hidden Economy Team’s crackdowns on the dishonest minority of people who try to keep outside of the tax system. If you are caught you may not only have to pay what you owe but additional penalties and interest on top. If you know of anyone trading or working and not paying their dues, please tell us via the Police 101 number.”