Businesses in Wigan have been warned about a ‘chancer’ said to be trying to con stores out of money by pretending to be a pest controller.
Business owners and staff say a ‘pushy’ man has been entering stores under false pretences and demanding money for his services.
It is claimed he has been targeting local takeaways, bars, corner shops and sometimes florists across the North West during their busy periods.
One store which the man apparently targeted was the Heath St Fish and Chip shop in Golborne, Wigan.
A member of staff who claims to have been duped by the man said he entered their store and others in the area last week on Thursday (November 26) when businesses were run off their feet as the Christmas lights were being switched on.
The staff member, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the man entered the store claiming to be a pest controller and asked for the number of the owner.
After a conversation with the owner, he then demanded £32.00 from the staff member who was busy readying the store for opening before making off with the cash.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, the member of staff said: “It was the night of Golborne Christmas light switch on, and we were expecting a busy tea time.
“I had all the fryers going just before opening, a regular customer came in and was waiting for us to open up. Then the man entered, quite friendly asking for the boss in a way as if he knew him.
“I told him he wasn’t here and he asked if I could ring him, he said he was from pest control. Pest control come every three months to check for any activity and put fresh poison and traps down.
“I then rang my boss in between trying to get the shop open on time. I passed him the phone to speak with my boss. After a short conversation he passed me the phone which had ran out of battery so I wasn’t able to speak to my boss myself.
“The man told me my boss said to sort it with me and it was £32.00. Another staff member handed over the money as I was busy at the time and I had to shout him back to write a receipt.
“As he was leaving it registered to me that something wasn’t quite right. We checked outside and he’d gone.”
Sensing something was wrong, the staff member posted the man’s photos on social media where they were linked to another post about a conman targeting multiple business across the North West.
“I charged the phone and spoke to my boss who had said he’d told him he wasn’t interested in what ever he was offering as we already had a pest control company that we’ve used for a number of years,” the staff member explained.
“I’d presumed he was the usual pest control man as I’m not normally on shift when they come in.
“After sharing on Facebook I was tagged in a post that he’s done this to numerous small businesses across the North West.
“Targeting women and becoming aggressive when he’s told where the door is. At £32.00 for absolutely nothing he’s making a good living. I’m normally very quick to spot a scam but as I said, I was very busy and the man was quite pushy.”
Victor Peoples is the owner of Pestaway NW Ltd, a business that has clients up and down the region.
He says he has been contacted by multiple businesses in the North West who have been targeted by the conman and he has urged businesses to be more vigilant.
Victor told the MEN: “He’s doing it when women are on their own, so I think he’s taking a chance, he’s a chancer.
“Apparently he’s been getting aggressive with some of my customers too.
“It’s happened to two of my customers, when the shop is ram-packed he comes in and demands money.
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“I’ve put it all over Facebook saying there’s a conman going round and if anybody sees him do not give him any money. For somebody to come in and demand money is something we’d never do.
“I hope he gets caught, because people are trying to make a living and he’s out there stealing from people.”
Greater Manchester Police have been approached for comment.
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