A TRUSTING householder was tricked out of hundreds of pounds by a bogus caller claiming to work for British Gas.
Residents are being warned to be on their guard after the incident, which happened in the Millfield area of Sunderland.
Police say the thief knocked on the door of a 25-year-old man and claimed to be from British Gas.
The caller showed an identity card and asked to read the gas and electricity meters, claiming the resident owed the company £225 which he needed to pay.
The resident handed over the cash and the man left.
The victim then made checks and discovered the man did not work for British Gas, he did not owe them any money and realised he had handed the money over to a bogus official.
Detective Sergeant Paul Stewart, of Sunderland CID, said: “We want to remind people to always carefully check the credentials of anyone they allow into their home.
“If in doubt then call the company yourself, before you allow a stranger in.
“Any reputable caller will not mind that you are taking these safety measures.
“Energy companies such as British Gas do not cold call to collect outstanding payments, they will always send out letters about any arrears owed, to inform the customer first.
“I’d urge anyone who gets anyone suspicious knocking at their door, or anyone they are not sure about, to not let them inside the house and instead contact the police - we are more than happy to come and check it out.”
The offender is described as a white man, approximately 6ft 1in tall, of medium build, with short mousey hair and was clean shaven.
He was wearing a dark green jacket with a British Gas emblem and dark coloured cargo trousers.
Anyone with any information about the incident, which happened between 7pm and 8pm last Friday, is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.