Organized criminal gangs are increasingly using victims of modern slavery to carry out door-to-door scams, the UK’s National Trading Standards has found in a new report.
Modern slavery victims exploited in these scams are forced to carry out unnecessary, poor quality household jobs at high prices. Victims are held captive by criminal gangs, forced to work for little or no pay and inadequate food. Vulnerable homeowners living alone, such as the elderly and disabled, are identified by gangs as targets easy to manipulate into paying for these poor-quality services.
Chairman of the National Trading Standards, Lord Harris, explained to Sky News:
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.
Consumer investigators have identified an increase in modern slavery victims exploited in these scams across England. The UK’s recent annual report on modern slavery highlighted that offences of this type increased by 50% (5,059) in the year to March 2019 than the previous 12 months. During this period of time, the number of potential modern slavery victims identified and referred for support rose by 36%, to 6,985.