Scam warning as Harrogate pensioner tricked into buying almost £300 worth of fish

A Harrogate pensioner said he was left feeling foolish after being conned into buying almost £300 worth of fish from a rogue trader.

Wednesday, 8th February 2017, 1:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:45 am
Fish sold to the Harrogate pensioner

The 88-year-old man, who did not wish to be named, was approached in his own home by the trader offering him 19 trays of fish.

Despite none of the various types of fish being labelled, the trader quoted the elderly man a price of £290, more than £15 a pack.

It was only after writing a cheque for the "outrageous sum" that the elderly man's son learned of the transaction and warned him of the con.

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Luckily the family were able to stop the cheque from being cashed before any money went out of his account.

The pensioner has warned other nearby neighbours to be wary of falling for the same con, advising them to only buy from a reputable trader.

He said: "The man came offering to sell me some fish and said he'd come round every few weeks. He said someone else down the road had already bought some from him, which I suppose was a way of 'baiting the hook'.

"It was all neatly trimmed and cut up, but it wasn't labelled. I thought it was rather more than I needed – there was quite a lot there.

"I felt as though I'd more or less committed myself through the conversation I'd been having, although I wasn't very happy about it.

"I didn't have a lot of time to reflect on it. I suppose I should have spotted it as being a scam.

"It was crooked of him to ask for that amount for that amount of fish. It takes a long time to eat that much if you're living by yourself."

The elderly man said that the traders had come and gone before he was aware it was a scam, comparing it to being "bitten by a snake".

North Yorkshire County Council's (NYCC) Trading Standards department have now warned the man that, with the fish not having a label on, or best-before date, it may not even be safe to eat.

Jo Boutflower, head of Business and Consumer Services at NYCC said she was aware of incidents like these occurring across the county and is now investigating the report.

She said: "Our advice is don't do business on the door step. Don't feel that you have to be polite and listen to their sales pitch because you don't.

"We do hear some really quite horrible stories about people who have lost £200 in these schemes or more. It's not unusual for them to be charging fees up to £400/500.

"There are all sorts of issues around the product. You might think you're getting haddock but it is just a generic white fish and they are actually getting something much cheaper.

"Don't assume you are getting a bargain because it's a couple of hundred pounds and you can fill your freezer up."

Ms Boutflower said that the Trading Standards team has also often dealt with rogue builders and gardeners; carrying out a poor standard of work which was usually unnecessary.

However, she said that those who have been conned should not feel embarrassed about the incident and advised them to contact the Citizen's Advice Consumer Service.

She said: "People who are caught out by any kind of scam must remember that the scammers are expert at what they do so they must not blame themselves or be embarrassed about what has happened.

"The important thing is to tell someone and get advice."

If you have been the victim of a con or are concerned about a relative, contact the Citizen's Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.