EVERY community needs neighbours like these, just ask pensioner Frank Stamford.

The 74-year-old became the target of scam artists who hatched an elaborate plan to con more than £3,000 from him.

His garden wall was destroyed by three men, with one then knocking on his door claiming they were from the council’s health and safety department following up a report of a child being injured by the debris on the pavement.

But the conmen did not count on the neighbours on Crescent Avenue, Over Hulton, who came to Mr Stamford's aid which saw the trio scarper ­- and have since helped to raise funds to rebuild the wall, with Hammond’s Handyman Services doing the work at a hugely discounted price.

Not only that, a special afternoon tea was organised by The Morris Dancers pub for Mr Stamford and his brother as a surprise to show people care.

Mr Stamford said: “ The community around here have been absolutely fantastic.

“I’m not concerned or scared especially with the quality of neighbours I have.

“The afternoon tea just turned up, there was considerable food, it was such a lovely gesture ­- not what you expect in this day and age.

Mr Stamford was targeted on the afternoon of Friday, November 20.

READ MORE: Police appeal after pensioner's wall destroyed in scam

The former civil servant said: “The man was trying to get into the house and I had to stop that.

“I felt straight away 'there is a scam going on here'.

“But he came back, he said he was from the council and said he had the forms with him and if he could come in to make the claims.

“There was no way I wanted him in the house, my concern was what could happen," he added.

It was then Mr Stamford told them he did not have the money and told the conman he would call on his neighbour, Alan Stevens for advice.

The Bolton News:

Mr Stevens said: “They shook the wall I believe to topple it over. At first I thought they had backed the vehicle into the wall and were telling Frank what had happened.

“When I heard I knew they were trying to get money out of him, and I came out with Frank and they scarpered.

“Frank was shook up by what had happened, they wanted £1,500 to clear up the debris and another £2,000 to rebuild the wall. I have always said to Frank to contact me whenever he needs to ­- it is very important to look out for your neighbours and each other and just be vigilant.”

Mr Stevens and his wife cleaned up the debris, while other neighbours put out an appeal for help.

Tracie Burke launched a GoFundMe page the same afternoon and within days it raised £800.

She said: “My daughter, Daisy, saw what had happened and was so upset and said 'mum you have to do something'.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of donations. The Morris Dancers organised an afternoon tea and delivered it for him.

“So many people have donated, people I don’t know ­- something like this makes you realise how important it is to reach out to your neighbours.”

The Bolton News:

David Hammond, who is rebuilding the wall, lives in Over Hulton. He said: “It is just awful when you hear something like this has happened.

“We stepped forward. We are reclaiming as many of the bricks we can and it will take about three days in all.

“My dad is helping as well. We will need some more bricks and coping stones, which Tracie is looking for, but it would be great if there is a builder’s merchants that can help. We need Daubhill brick and coping stones, but I don’t think we will need too many, we will know more once we have scraped them down.”

John Bullen, an active member of the community who runs Over Hulton Community Group Facebook page, said: “Everyone has rallied round to help. Frank and his brother have lived here a very long time and they are two recognisable local people that everyone knows.

“It is sad that someone should do this to such lovely people.

“Fortunately other alert neighbours took photographs of the men and police are currently investigating.

“It was a truly appalling incident and hopefully the police may catch them as vigilant and caring neighbours got CCTV and photos.

“We have the best police officers and the crime prevention group we set up has had huge success, with arrests having been made previously from information residents have given them.”

Residents say they have heard about incidents of scam artists targeting people in a similar way.