DETECTIVES have saluted quick-thinking bank staff for helping police catch two cold-calling con artists in the act as they preyed on a vulnerable pensioner.
Amos Matthew Price, 34, and Craig Dearden, 22, were both jailed last week after they tried to force a 72-year-old Whiston man to hand over £6,000 in cash.
The St Helens duo had claimed that the roof of the pensioner’s Fisher Avenue home was damaged and would cost thousands to fix.
They even had the nerve to claim that the £6,000 quote was a bargain, claiming that the work would normally have cost more than £8,000.
But, when an alert clerk at the Lloyds TSB bank in Eccleston Street, Prescot, politely queried the amount that the victim wanted to withdraw, a bank officer on the customer helpdesk became suspicious and dialled 999.
Police attended the bank soon after - on November 30 last year - and the victim told them how the offenders had already climbed onto his roof and started throwing ridge tiles onto the front garden of his terraced house.
When officers drove to the victim’s address they found one offender in a van outside the man’s home and the other loitering nearby.
Both were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation and later charged.
Acting Detective Inspector Craig Sumner, of Knowsley CID, praised bank staff for their alertness.
He said: “Thanks to the quick-thinking bank clerk, who politely queried the unusally large amount of money the victim was withdrawing, we were able to get officers to the scene quickly and make arrests.
“This case shows the benefits of members of the community looking out for each other in order to prevent people falling victim to crime.”
DI Sumner added: “Cold-callers like this succeed by putting pressure on elderly, often vulnerable, residents, by making up or exaggerating the repair work that needs doing and then demanding inflated prices, often in cash upfront.
“Our advice is to never let cold-callers into your home without asking for ID first and always check that they are who they say they are by calling the company they claim to work for, using a number from the phone book, not one of theirs. Reputable tradesmen will not mind calling back later to give you time to consult with a relative or neighbour.
“If you have any concerns, always call the police.”
Price, of Broad Oak Road, St Helens, was jailed for 14 months and Dearden, of Valentine Road, Newton-le-Willows, for nine months.
Both defendants had pleaded guilty to fraud before Liverpool Crown Court on April 1.