We must do more to help vulnerable people escape the clutches of conmen


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The Independent Online

When a bank cashier in north London was confronted by a trembling 89-year-old pensioner asking to take £15,000 out of her bank account in cash earlier this year, she knew something was wrong.

So the cashier, who luckily actually knew the pensioner, called the police and their investigations revealed that the 89-year-old had been the victim of a rogue trader.

Yesterday the crooked builder was jailed for 18 months after Judge Sheelagh Canavan at Snaresbrook Crown Court said: “This is essentially a confidence fraud.”

Adam Rafferty, 26, had turned up at Elizabeth Arnold’s house to do a minor repair job on her windows in return, supposedly, for her having an advertising board outside her home. But he then told Ms Arnold she had damp in her walls and it would cost £15,000 to repair. He handed her an invoice for the amount and sent her off to the bank to get the cash.

If the concerned cashier hadn’t known the pensioner, the con may have been successful. So, for a change, I’m happy to write in praise of a banker. But only local bank staff who can make a difference in their community.

But my wider point is my growing concern at the number of crooks who are targeting older people. The court was told that Rafferty had been to prison for a similar offence in 2010, in other words he is a career con artist.

But he’s far from the only one. Only a few weeks ago I wrote about a scumbag named John Jenkins, a builder who fleeced a pensioner out of almost half a million pounds over three years, for which he was sentenced to six years in jail.

Her plight only came to light only after she was forced to ask a neighbour for money to buy food. Both stories emphasise the need for greater protection and support for vulnerable people. But we can all help out, simply by checking on the older folk who live in our own communities.


Twitter: @simonnread

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