Detectives are appealing for information and urging residents to be vigilant following a series of incidents involving rogue traders in Dorset.
A number of incidents have been reported across the county in recent weeks.
On Tuesday 17 July 2018 a woman aged in her 60s reported that a man had attended her address in Boscombe claiming he was from a water company and that drainage works were being carried out in the area.
Shortly afterwards she received a telephone call from a man demanding £650 up front in cash or the woman’s bank card as a security deposit for a piece of equipment that would need to be installed.
The woman refused to give any details and later checked with her water company, which confirmed this would not have been a request from them.
On Tuesday 31 July 2018 a woman aged in her 80s in the Upton area had a man visit her address who claimed he needed her phone number in relation to a delivery.
She later received a phone call from a man claiming to be from a drain company who said aerial photos showed her trees had caused drains to become blocked and she would have to pay £600 for machinery to fix it. A man later attended the address and she gave him £300.
On Friday 2 August it was reported that a man had attended an address in Hamworthy and told the owner, a woman aged in her 80s, that there was a blockage further up the road that could result in flooding to her flat.
He took her telephone number and she later received a call from a man purporting to be from the council, saying she needed to pay £1,200 for equipment to prevent the flooding.
After receiving repeated calls she went to the bank to withdraw the money but, after taking advice from a neighbour, did not hand it over when a man came to collect it and told him she would be contacting police.
The following day a woman aged in her 60s reported a man had attended her flat in Weymouth, claiming to be the groundsman for the flats and saying that waterworks were being carried out.
He said works were required to stop her garden being flooded and she would have to pay £600 to cover the costs.
She went to her bank to withdraw the money and when she returned she received a call from a man claiming to be from the contractor carrying out the work, who said she needed to pay an extra £1,100.
She handed over the money to two men wearing lanyards and ID badges at the address.
Detective Inspector Neil Wright, of the priority crime team, said: “These incidents have all involved men targeting vulnerable women in their own homes by obtaining their details and then putting pressure on them to pay for drainage or water works they claimed were required.
“I would urge anyone with information about these incidents, or who has been approached in similar circumstances, to please contact police.
“Officers have visited these victims to give advice and support and I would encourage all residents to be on their guard against offenders such as this.
“Our advice is to never accept work from anyone who offers it to you over the phone or at your door, never go to the bank with or at the request of a tradesperson and if you think you have been scammed or are being targeted contact us immediately.”
For more advice on doorstep crime visit www.dorset.police.uk/ help-advice-crime-prevention/home-property-belongings/protect-your-home/doorstep-crime/.
Anyone with information about the incidents above or who wants to report a similar incident is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email email@example.com or by calling 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.