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A TREE-FELLING company says it fears would-be customers are being duped by fraudsters trading under

Tree Fella in Great Wakering believes calls from customers are being intercepted and people claiming to be from the firm are taking on the work for cash in hand and doing a bad job.

Company owner Carol Steward said: “One of our regular customers paid £1,300 to someone who said he worked for us. She paid in cash and they did a very shoddy job which we sorted out for her. She had called us and the line clicked before a man came on the line saying he did some work for us.

“Unfortunately she gave him the money. It’s not the first time this has happened. We have customers leaving messages and we give them to our employees to deal with, but when they call the customer some have said we’ve already contacted them and they’ve paid for the work.

“We’ve tried contacting the police, but they say they can’t do anything and BT hasn’t been able to help.”

Simon Govier, corporate officer at Tree Fella, said: “A client of ours appears to have had her call illegally intercepted by a third party unknown to us. He refers to himself as Brian and explained to her he deals with inquiries for us in the area in which she lives, something which is categorically untrue.

“He arranged to visit her in order, as she thought, for an initial inspection to provide a free quotation, such is the waywe work. However, “Brian”

turned up and began performing the work without discussing a price, still claiming to be from our company.

“After he had finished he demanded immediate payment of £1,200 cash on the spot.”

Mr Govier added: “She had some earlier misgivings about this being some way short of the service she usually receives from us, but it was at this point she became convinced something was very much amiss.

“When she questioned him on why Tree Fella no longer sends out invoices and accept card payments over the phone, he admitted he wasn’t really affiliated directly with us.

“Unfortunately she felt so pressured that she ended up paying him the full amount in cash.”

Last year the Echo reported how a woman was conned out of £300 when a man turned up to chop down her tree, pretending to be from the company.

Thewoman had booked an appointment with Tree Fella, but the conman told her he could bring forward her May appointment is she paid cash.

The company stresses they never take cash, but always invoice customers.

All Tree Fella staff also wear uniforms.

#Southend #Essex #Scam #EveningEcho #TreeFella

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