'Elder Abuse' | 

Charity says dramatic increase in bogus tradesman fraud is ‘inexcusable’

The shocking new figure was released as part of An Garda Síochána’s Provisional Crime Statistics report for 2022, which identified key crime trends across the country for the first half of this year.

Stock image. Picture posed. Photo: Arturs Budkevics

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Scams involving bogus tradesmen have increased by more than 80pc in 2022, according to a new report.

The shocking new figure was released as part of An Garda Síochána’s Provisional Crime Statistics report for 2022, which identified key crime trends across the country for the first half of this year.

And while overall fraud offences have seen a decrease of 2pc compared to last year, significant increases continue in scams such as accommodation fraud (+58pc) and bogus tradesman fraud (+81pc).

Bogus tradesman or doorstep fraud typically involves conmen trying to scam you at your home – usually by offering their services as repairmen or contractors.

Some of these people carry out very little work and charge exorbitant amounts of money for their services. There are recognised and defined criminal offences for this type of behaviour, ranging from criminal damage, deception, to demanding money.

While anyone can fall victim to fraudulent tradesmen, older people are particularly targeted by these scammers, and there has been a significant increase nationwide in bogus tradesman ripping off householders since the pandemic lockdowns ended.

Earlier this year, a pensioner living in Ranelagh, Dublin was scammed out of an €850 deposit for building work, while €5,000 in cash was also demanded from him.

He said he was also invited to become involved in an insurance scam with the criminals who targeted him.

He told the Sunday World that he wanted to highlight his case as he is "absolutely determined" to see the culprits caught and to warn other potential victims.

The victim, who did not want to be identified, said: "I feel outraged, disgusted and sickened about this and I am absolutely determined that no one else should be a victim of this individual."

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CEO of support charity ALONE, Sean Moynihan, said that bogus tradesman scams targeting pensioners are “inexcusable” acts of "elder abuse”.

“It is inexcusable to us that bogus tradesmen would seek to take advantage of the most isolated people in our communities. We know from our own research and work over the years that elder abuse continues to be a serious issue,” he told the Sunday World.

“Older people are far less likely to report cases of abuse, with those who live alone with no support from family, friends or their community being four times more likely to suffer from abuse.

“We urge older people to ensure that they take the relevant precautions around hiring tradesmen such as: avoiding cash payments that are untraceable, not paying for work in advance, getting more than one quote for work and getting it in writing, ensure that the tradesmen are certified and insured to carry out work on your property.”

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