Cold callers using energy crisis to peddle new scam

Scammers have exploited the energy crisis and targeted the elderly and vulnerable in a resurgence of loft insulation cold-calling which has robbed households of thousands of pounds.

Rogue traders and fraudsters have used high-pressure gambits to dupe victims into paying for unnecessary and expensive spray foam insulation. Cowboy builders carry out shoddy work or disappear with deposits.

Tim Jones of Community Energy Plus, an advice charity in Cornwall, said cold-calling salesmen were increasingly targeting older households and using scare tactics to suggest their current insulation did not meet fabricated “government standards”.

He said: “Spray insulation is extremely costly and can cause a lot of damage. Salesmen quote around £7,000 to £8,000 when standard insulation costs around £500. 

“We are hearing of households quoted £7,000 and then offered a discounted price of £5,000 if they sign and pay that day. It’s a classic high-pressure tactic.”

One scammer told an elderly couple they would be fined for having the wrong type of insulation, before offering a “discounted” price for his work. 

“Fortunately they came to us and we were able to intervene before any funds were transferred,” Mr Jones said.

The wave of loft insulation fraud seen during the pandemic has returned as scammers capitalise on the energy crisis.

Katherine Hart of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute said: “Criminals will exploit any chaos they can and we are seeing a resurgence of cold-­calling and door-­stepping scams.

“If you are contacted out of the blue or told the trader is just in the area for one day, hang up or close the door. They will use high-pressure tactics to get victims to sign over as much money as possible.”

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