County Limerick family targeted by con artists three times warn of ‘new scam’

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Email:

donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

County Limerick family targeted by con artists three times warn of ‘new scam’

Gardai at Bruff are investigating the incident

AN ELDERLY lady living in County Limerick has revealed a clever new scam that nearly caught her out.

It is the third time her family have been targeted by crooks. A number of years ago the woman had €1,500 stolen from her purse after she had withdrawn it from a bank in Mitchelstown. She was the victim of a distraction scam.

While her late husband was defrauded out of €4,000. One day a number of men called to their home and convinced him to purchase a suite of furniture.

They drove him to a bank in Kilmallock and he withdrew the money. However, they swapped the new suite with one that was worthless. 

The most recent incident occurred on Wednesday, February 27 at her home in the Ballylanders area. The lady, who is aged in her late seventies, doesn’t wish to be named. She had recently had a number of trees cut down by Pat Hennessy, of Hennessy Nurseries in Ballylanders.

"It was around 3pm. There was a knock on the door. It was a young man, I’d say he was late twenties or early thirties. He was tall and thin with black hair. He was clean shaven. He looked clean and tidy.

“He had an orange hi-vis jacket with ‘Tree Surgeon’ written on the front and back of it. He had a hard hat on which was the same colour as the jacket. He had a leaflet with ‘Tree Surgeon’ written on it. It looked like the real deal.” 

The lady asked, “Why are you here?” 

“He said, 'I'm here for payment. You owe money, you had the trees down at the side of your house. It’s in the book that you haven't paid’. I said to him 'it is paid',” said the woman who went to dial Pat Hennessy. 

The con artist left immediately in his small white van. She thinks he thought she was ringing the gardai.

Pat assured her it wasn’t one of his men that had called.

“Luckily enough she had me fully paid. I told her I work on my own. You could hear her voice dropping then due to the shock. I went over to her house and had a cup of tea with her. She was very frightened,” said Pat, who described it as a “professional scam”.

“It was very clear a big tree surgery had gone on so he could see it from the road. He didn’t know was there money owed. There could have been a couple of thousand owed. He could have said give me €500 off the bill.

“I mentioned it to some other lads and they all agreed it was a new type of con,” said Pat.

He warns that it affects all tradesmen. If the con man can see there was work done, they can call to the house, chance their arm and ask for payment. 

“The best thing to do is when you start a job is tell the person to pay the money to you and only you. That’s the way it has gone sadly. It is someone invading your private space and trying to con you out of money. It is the next step from breaking in and robbing the house. Hopefully the article will help warn people, especially the elderly who they target,” said Pat, who reported the matter to Bruff gardai.

The elderly lady agrees with Pat’s advice.

"What I'd like to put in the paper is – don't pay anybody at the door and only pay the person you are dealing with – no-one else."

Having been the victim of one scam and almost of a second one two weeks ago, she can’t understand people who do this.

“I often wonder is it people that are too lazy to work that do it. Could they not get a job? I don't care what job you have, as long as you work for your money,” she said.

Deputy Niall Collins described it as the “lowest of the low”.

“It is despicable, targeting the oldest and most vulnerable in our society,” said Deputy Collins.

Anybody with any information or may have seen a small white van being driven suspiciously in the Ballylanders area on Wedneday, February 27 to contact gardai in Bruff on 061 382940.