More modern slavery victims being used by crime gangs in homeowner scams

A rising number of modern slavery victims are being used by crime gangs to carry out home improvement scams, according to Trading Standards.

Teams across England are reporting more cases where enslaved workers are used to do unnecessary or poorly executed jobs, often ultimately at massively inflated prices.

Criminal gangs deliberately target homeowners who might be vulnerable, for example the elderly, seriously ill or disabled, often living alone, National Trading Standards said (TSA).

Its teams in Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East, Central England and the East of England, say victims of modern slavery are increasingly being used to carry out the work.

These are people, often immigrants, who are held captive and forced to work with little food and scant or no pay.

Lord Toby Harris (pictured), chairman of NTS said: “The doorstep scammer is not a lovable rogue.

“Often behind the person who turns up at your door offering cut-price services is a serious criminal.

“Not only are they happy to rip off older people, those living on their own, and indeed anyone who is taken in by their patter, but they may also be exploiting and even enslaving vulnerable people to help them carry out their crimes.

“Consumers need to be vigilant to old scams wrapped in 21st century packaging and to ruthless criminals who will stop at nothing in pursuit of ill-gotten riches.”

According to the UK’s annual report on modern slavery published last month, the police recorded 50% more of the offences (5,059) in the year to March 2019 than the previous 12 months.

There was also a 36% rise in the number of potential victims identified and referred for support under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), up to 6,985 from the previous year.

This aims to identify potential victims of modern slavery and get them help.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Victoria Jones / PA Wire.

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