As a roofing consultant of many years standing, nothing has upset me more than my recent involvement with “bogus callers”.  Over the last two years, my consultancy business has been employed by Police Scotland and Trading Standards in an effort to stamp out Rogue Traders specifically working on roofs.  This is the dark side of roofing which has resulted in the setting up of a major police operation in Scotland, with close links created with Trading Standards and my own consultancy business.

Police Scotland has provided the following statement: “Bogus callers and bogus workmen deliberately prey on vulnerable members of the community, using a variety of ruses in order to rob people of often large sums of money.

Operation Aristotle was launched in the City of Edinburgh in February 2012 to ensure a co-ordinated approach towards dealing with this type of crime. Part of the work has seen the Police using qualified roofing experts to assess the work of suspected rogue traders and their expert evidence has been successfully used in criminal cases of fraud.

It is clearly in the interests of everyone involved in the building and roofing trade to stamp out the presence of criminals who exploit the industry for their own benefit. I would encourage anyone with information about bogus workmen to contact their local Police Station or Crimestoppers, where information can be reported anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”

I cannot relate to any individual cases at this time as many remain in the legal system, but I can confirm the cash amounts range from a few hundred pounds to £150,000 from one vulnerable old lady.  The talent these “scammers” have for extorting money from the more susceptible people within our society knows no bounds. 

The main reason for this article is to create awareness of the issues at hand.  If you, as a contractor, have any suspicions concerning contractors working nearby, call the police.  Tell-tale clues that strongly indicate a “scammer” are no markings on vehicles, no scaffold or PPE, driving the client down to the bank for funds and of course, general poor workmanship.

We all have a massive part to play in informing the vulnerable, and occasionally not so vulnerable, of the pitfalls relatives to scams.

The Divisional Officer for South Lanarkshire Council’s Trading Standards, said “Consumers should be able to rely on any business to carry out repairs to a satisfactory standard.

Unfortunately many older and vulnerable adults do fall victim to bogus workmen or plausible sales people who then demand large amounts of money for little or no service. Bogus property repairers can and do employ very plausible sales techniques to get householders to use them straight away.

South Lanarkshire Trading Standards, together with our partner agencies have for some time been working together to disrupt and detect those engaged in doorstep crime and would advise consumers that if property repair work is required, get several written quotes from trustworthy or recommended firms and then decide who is right for you.”

The Police in Scotland and also Trading Standards are carrying out a wonderful service, which as an industry we should support wholeheartedly.

Graeme Millar

NFRC President