EXCLUSIVE: By Giles Brown
A COUPLE of conmen got more than they bargained for when they tried to fleece a pensioner in Coin.
Wily Swede Rose Marie Wieking was at her finca just outside the town when two men knocked on her door, claiming that they were sent from the gas company to inspect her gas bottles.
Previously her husband had met and paid inspectors, but after his death earlier this year, this was the first time that Rose Marie had dealt with them.
“The two men turned up on the Thursday”, Rose Marie told the Olive Press, “and said they had come on a routine inspection. They told me that the cost would be around €300, and I would have to pay then and there. I asked them if they would accept a credit card but they explained that their credit card machine wasn’t working. So we agreed that they would come on Monday at 11am.”
It wasn’t until Rose Marie looked over the paperwork again that she began to realise that something was amiss. The last inspection had only been nine months earlier, and when she tried ringing the numbers on the bills, they were out of order.
When she finally got hold of the gas company they said they knew nothing about the inspections and told her that the ‘inspectors’ were fake.
Rose Marie spoke with the Guardia Civil that afternoon and they assured her that they would have an officer available on Monday at 11am.
The following Monday, however, the bogus inspectors turned up half an hour early, walking into the finca.
Rose Marie said: “I could hear them outside, shouting, so I locked myself inside the house and called my daughter Samanta.”
Samanta drove straight to the Guardia Civil and informed them the gas men where there, then headed to her mother’s finca.
“I drove down, and they were hanging outside the house,” Samanta says, “I asked them what they were doing and they had the cheek to say that they were waiting for the lady in the finca to give them money!
“I quickly took a photo of them with my iPad, and the next thing I knew the Guardia Civil came thundering up the road.”
With the arrival of the Guardia Civil, the ‘gasmen’ suddenly lost all their confidence, shaking visibly as the authorities went through their paperwork. Rose Marie was advised that there wasn’t much point in pressing charges however.
“The Guardia Civil said that it wasn’t really worth denouncing them as I couldn’t prove they were the same guys who had come on other occasions,” said Rose Marie, “It could have been another gang. But they did say to the two men that if they saw them in Coin again there would be trouble.”
Rosie Marie has the following advice for anyone who suspects that they may be targeted by the gas man con. “You have to check the ID cards carefully – these guys had fake cards. The best thing is check your original maintenance contract to see when the next visit is due.”
“And remember that they have to give you a quote to be agreed and then you have two weeks to pay, they can’t just come and demand cash. We worked out that the gas con men have cost us nearly €2000 in the past, so we want to warn others”.