Three men posing as council workers have conned a vulnerable man out of £300 in Hornchurch, pretending to be cutting down trees and repairing guttering in the area.
The three men were seen on Wednesday near Suttons Avenue in a white van, knocking on people’s doors informing them that they were from the council.
Hornchurch resident Laura told the Havering Daily: “A neighbour of ours put the news up on a group chat we have alerting us that there were three men on the streets with chainsaws looking to cut down trees. Another neighbour replied to her that they had knocked on her door, not wearing masks or showing identification, saying that they were cleaning guttering and that she had a roof tile missing and that they could fix it for her.
“Fortunately she turned them away and then another of our neighbour’s went out to question what they were doing and they responded by saying they were cleaning guttering and was her car for sale. Our neighbour then questioned them further and at that point they began cutting into another neighbour’s tree on her drive with an axe!”
The Hornchurch residents were concerned what these three men were up to as they had not shown any identification, nor were they wearing any masks.
Laura continued: “At this point the three men learnt that there is a vulnerable adult with learning difficulties who had answered the door to them and they began to cut his tree down, demanding he pay money. We thought his brother was at home but we didn’t realise he wasn’t and the three men demanded £300 from him. They had told the man they were from the council and that he had to pay for the tree cutting.
“Another neighbour went out to challenge the men then and they began to pack up in a hurry, leaving the tree destroyed and partially cut down. More neighbours then came out of their houses to challenge the men who at that stage drove off in a hurry.
“When I saw the vulnerable man hand over money on the doorstep I called 999 as I knew that was not right. We all then went over to speak to the man and he told us that the three men had informed him that they were from the council and that he had to pay £300 for them to cut the tree down. He was very upset and confused by it all.
“Another one of our neighbours had also reported that they had started to put ladders up on her house without her permission until she went out and told them to go.”
The three men are described as white with strong accents that they believe were all Eastern European. The van registration number is RK56 TXO.
Laura finished by saying, “When one of our neighbour’s asked where their council identification was they then scarpered.”
Other residents in the Sutton Avenue area as reported seeing these three men about in the area.