Bogus gardeners are on the rise this winter – don't be scammed

Gardening expert warns against the rise of doorstep scammers pretending to be garden maintenance

Man mowing lawn
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Bogus gardener scams are on the rise in the UK, a gardening expert has warned. Scammers pretending to be garden maintenance have been reported to be knocking on people's doors, offering bogus services in order to gain access to homes, or simply to get the residents to part with their cash. 

Whether you're being offered autumn lawn care or hedge cutting, don't fall for a scam, warns Chris Bonnett, founder of GardeningExpress.co.uk.

Gardener pruning tree with secateurs

(Image credit: Michal Ulicny/Moment/Getty Images)

Doorstep scammers often choose vulnerable and older people who may be less used to booking reputable gardening services online. They may offer to mow the lawn, trim back a hedge, or prune a tree, for a fee that will seem very reasonable. 

According to Action Fraud, around £18.7 million was lost to doorstep scammers in 2020, and the number is rising. Chris said that 'it’s important to just stay a bit more alert throughout the wintertime, especially if you get cold callers knocking on the door.'

Chris emphasises that elderly people 'who may find it too cold to go outside and carry out any garden jobs' are especially at risk. Typically, scammers will offer 'fake gardening services like mowing the lawn' in order to gain access to a property and steal valuables, but some will simply run off with the cash paid for the service that will never be delivered.

A wheelbarrow in garden

(Image credit: Carol Yepes/Moment/Getty Images)

People should also be wary of anyone cold calling about checking out or 'fixing' their heating or electricity, or requesting access to energy meters.

Is all door-to-door service selling bogus? No, but Chris says that 'generally councils advise against answering the door to people selling door-to-door services just to be on the safe side.'

The best course of action is always to call out a professional gardening service that has a real address and phone number. Professional garden maintenance people should also come in a branded vehicle and have their own equipment without needing to ask for yours. 

Chris' top tip for those who don't want to hire a service is  that 'you could ask a trustworthy neighbour or family member to give you a hand, I'm sure they'll be happy to help rather than run the risk of putting you in an unsafe situation.'