TWO bogus salesmen conned a 95-year-old woman into buying a handful of fish for £40.
Alice Bentley was targeted at her home in Bacup by the men who were posing as doorstep traders. They went inside and she was pressured into handing over two £20 notes for two kippers, four fishcakes and sliver of pollock.
The men then fled in a white van.
Ms Bentley’s daughter, Pat Hernon, 70, said she couldn’t believe that two men would target a vulnerable pensioner.
She said: “My mum is usually pretty switched on but this has shocked her.
“I’m just thankful that nothing worse happened. Who knows how dangerous it could have been? She could have been beaten up.
“When she rang me up to explain what happened I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t really hit her straight away how much she’d spent for this tiny portion of fish.”
Mrs Hernon said her mum first spoke to a man in his 50s when he knocked on the door. After describing what she wanted, he headed to a white van parked outside before a second man, in his 40s, came into her front room.
The second man, who she described as ‘pushy’, headed straight for her freezer without showing the produce. He then demanded the excessive payment and headed out the front door at her home in Trough Gate area.
Mrs Hernon said: “There was no more than £10-15 of fish there. I don’t think mum can believe how stupid she’s been but it’s not her fault.
“I’m pleading with her not to let strangers in to the house and I would appeal to others to make sure this doesn’t happen to them.”
It is believed the same two men approached people in Burnley Road, Bacup, trying to sell fish last Thursday.
They also asked if there were any greyhounds or whippets for sale.
Bacup Councillor Jimmy Eaton, who regularly holds functions for senior citizens, described the incident was ‘very sad’.
He said: “Conning anyone, whether they are 95 or 16, is wrong. With the dark nights coming in, older people are afraid of going out, let alone being targeted in their own homes.
“This incident could have given that woman a heart attack. They have sunk to great depths by targeting the elderly without thinking about the possible effects on other people. I would encourage people to be as safe as possible and get locks on their doors.”
Inspector Jes Holland said: “We are keen to speak to these men as we are concerned they may have ulterior motives. It appears they have significantly overcharged an elderly resident for a small amount of fish.
“Most people who call at your door are genuine although I would always advise people to remain vigilant and be on guard for bogus callers.
“If the caller doesn’t have an appointment with you, do not feel obliged to answer the door. Ask for identification and if they don’t have it, they shouldn’t be coming into your house.”
Anyone with information about the incidents should contact police on 101.