The Gardener Scam

Scammers are resourceful crooks, so it pays to be vigilant if or when you receive offers that seem too good to be true.

The problem is that scammers can operate over a wide range of activities. The latest one we have heard about is the Gardener Scam. A casual recommendation or even a cold call at your place with an offer to tidy your garden, mow the lawns, trim trees or hedges can be very enticing in the depths of winter. But if you don’t know the background to the offer, be aware that it could be bogus.

We had a woman call about a gardener who was recommended to her: she paid her several thousand dollars, and the work never got done.

The essence of the scam is the request for payment after some work is done but before completion, or the even more brazen request for payment before the work is started. Be aware of those who resort to stories about coming back to do more but that they need the payment now. While you may sympathise, you should recognise that it may be the last time you see them, or your money.

The Scambusters web site lists several techniques employed by scammers including unregistered tree surgeons claiming trees are dangerous and need trimming, unsolicited “lawn doctors”, and even exotic seeds, bulbs or plants being sold on-line. They advise you to be wary of these approaches and offers at surprisingly low prices. The latter could just be a means of gaining access to your property.

You don’t have to be paranoid about this, but just treat unsolicited offers of help with a healthy degree of scepticism.

Not all gardeners are scammers of course. If you want some work done, you could contact a recognised garden centre and ask for their advice.


~ Mick Calder, Office Support Volunteer

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