Scam warning after Sheffield pensioner falls prey to mobility scooter fraud

Diane Barker, with a picture of her mum Gertrude. They were conned out of �1,300 by a door-to-door salesman who promised them a mobility chair last May.
Diane Barker, with a picture of her mum Gertrude. They were conned out of �1,300 by a door-to-door salesman who promised them a mobility chair last May.

A frail Sheffield pensioner was conned out of £1,300 by a mobility aids salesman – sparking a scam warning.

Gertrude Barker, aged 91, and daughter Diane handed over the money for a mobility chair to a salesman who came to their home in Southey, Sheffield, last year – but the equipment never arrived.

When they tried to contact the company, Meadow Vale Mobility in Nottingham, they could not reach anyone and asked Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council member for Southey, to help.

Coun Bramall asked the council’s trading standards team to investigate.

And officers found the company had gone into liquidation – before trading under a new name of Mobility Support, also based in Nottingham.

The team found that company had also ceased trading, and the original firm, Meadow Vale Mobility, had been highlighted on the BBC consumer affairs programme Watchdog as a ‘rogue trader’.

Diane said her mum is now living in a care home.

The 58-year-old, who has epilepsy, said: “The Irish salesman showed us two catalogues so mum could pick out a chair – we are still waiting for it.

“I would say to people just don’t buy from anybody who comes to your house.

“The salesman said there were about four salesmen, so it seemed quite good and mum paid extra so the chair would get seen to once every year.

“I think it is disgusting what they have done – they’ve just taken her money off her.”

No-one from either firm could be contacted.

Coun Bramall, council cabinet member for business, skills and development, said he had spoken to a former employee who claimed he was owed £8,000 in wages and many people had not received goods.

He said the salesman believed the company was still trading.

Coun Bramall said: “These people really are the lowest of the low to knowingly target vulnerable people and rip them off for significant amounts of money.

“We are doing everything we can to investigate this, but we would urge people not to hand over any money on the doorstep to anybody.”

Coun Bramall also urged people affected by doorstop scams to contact the council or The Star to build a full picture of the scale of the problem in Sheffield.

Police tips to avoid falling victim to scams

* Never accept an offer of work from an unknown caller. If they are genuine, they will be willing to leave contact details;

* If you need work doing, do not go with the first trader you meet. Obtain a number of quotes and where possible, ask family or friends for a recommendation;

* If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the person at your door, ask to see identification. Don’t be afraid to close and lock your door while you make any checks;

* Do not to transfer any money over the phone or online until work has been completed;

* Talk about this with your families, parents and grandparents, to ensure they are aware;

* To report suspicious activity call 101.