TRADING standards is warning Harrow residents about cowboy builders after a spate of homeowners have been lured into paying excessive costs for unnecessary work.
In the past two months, Harrow and Brent Trading Standards has investigated five 'cold caller' cases, in which bogus tradesmen have carried out work at properties in Harrow.
On one occasion, conmen dug up a homeowner's driveway without any consent then bullied them into paying for the work before leaving the job unfinished.
Trading standards is now urging residents to be extra vigilant when dealing with traders who call at their door and to look out for elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours to ensure rogue traders do not try to take advantage.
According to investigators, tradesmen have been insisting on being paid in cash and have given customers false names, addresses and telephone numbers to try to reduce the chance of comeback for their actions.
In these cases, once the work has started the trader has often become aggressive, demanded much larger sums of money, effectively holding the victim to ransom over unfinished work.
There are also reports that some of these traders may be involved in distraction burglaries.
Once they have their foot in the door, they help themselves to cash and valuables found in the property.
Bill Bilon, director of Brent and Harrow Trading Standards Service said: "We urge consumers not to deal with traders who call at their door.
"Consumers should always obtain recommendations from friends and relatives if they want any work carried out and get different written quotes."
If you need assistance in dealing with a tradesperson or you want to report any suspicious activity, contact Brent and Harrow Trading Standards on 020 8937 5555.