A Hove pensioner has been defrauded by doorstep conmen claiming to be from the emergency plumbing firm Dyno-Rod.
The bogus workmen made off with £2,000 in one of about 20 incidents reported to police since the start of last month, mostly in Brighton and Hove.
Councillor Peter Atkinson warned residents in his North Portslade to be on their guard after a similar incident in Mile Oak last month.
Sussex Police said today: “Police are issuing a warning after a series of people have been scammed by fraudsters pretending to be from Dyno-Rod drain company.
“Since the start of January, over 20 victims have reported incidents with similar circumstances to police across Sussex.
“The majority of victims are elderly and have occurred in Brighton and Hove.
“Typically, the fraudsters will knock on the door and tell the victims they need emergency work.
“The victims will then be asked to transfer money to the fraudsters or hand over their bank details.
“Money is taken from the victims’ accounts for work that is not carried out.
“A 73-year-old victim from Hove has spoken about how he was defrauded out of £2,000 through the scam.
“On (Saturday) 25 January a man knocked at the door to advise that he was currently working on nearby drains and may need access via the victim’s property. The victim thought nothing of it.
“A while later, a different man attended the victim’s property, stating that they were from Dyno-Rod, displaying an ID badge briefly.
“He then said emergency works needs to be carried out on the victim’s property and that the fee for this would be £25.
“After the victim agreed, the man stated that they could not accept cash, therefore persuaded the victim to give his bank card and pin number.
“The suspect went away with his card (but) came back saying that the details were incorrect.
“The victim then gave him another card, along with his full name and date of birth to be able to withdraw the cash.
“Over a period of time, £2,000 was taken from the victim’s account.”
The victim said: “My doorbell went and there was a guy there who said he was carrying out work on the drains. He came and had a good look around the house.
“A second man came who looked very official and said they needed £25 to hire the Dyno-Rod equipment and they’d pay me back.
“He said that they don’t accept cash and they couldn’t take me to the cash machine because they’re not insured so asked for my card to take to the ATM.
“He wanted the PIN number so I gave him a card that’s not connected to my bank account.
“He came back saying that it didn’t work and asked for another one.
“I was very reluctant but he said he’d come back with the paperwork.
“They then wanted my full name and date of birth which made me suspicious so I called the bank and they said £2,000 had been removed.
“It’s terrible that they do this to people. I lost £2,000.
“The first man looked like a genuine hard-working man and the second looked official with a hanging black badge but I didn’t look at it very carefully.
“I get these scams sometimes via email about the TV licensing or property and normally I can smell them a mile away.
“You have to be so careful. They really did fool me. It’s really unpleasant.
“The PCSO who came to my house has helped me go ex-directory and I’ve taken out ID cover. I need to be protected from this sort of thing.”
PC Bernadette Lawrie, a financial abuse safeguarding officer, said: “This impersonator fraud scam is a disgraceful way of defrauding the victims of their cash and we are determined to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Please be vigilant about anyone who comes to the door asking for personal or financial information.
“Never give your bank details, transfer money to those you don’t know or trust or give your PIN number or other sensitive information to strangers.
“If you are in doubt about a situation, close the door and call police. If something doesn’t sound right, don’t feel pressured to make a snap decision on matters relating to your finances. Trust your instincts.
“Alternatively, speak with a trusted friend or family member and get their advice on whether you should go through with any action that could impact you financially.”
Sussex Police added: “If you have been a victim of this crime or have any information that could help with our inquiries, please report online or call 101.”