Householders across the Fylde coast have today been warned to be on their guard against growing reports of tricksters selling fish door-to-door.
The warning comes after The Gazette told how a housebound Blackpool woman was conned out of £88 by the rogue sellers.
Dodgy traders – believed to be operating in the North East – are now reported to have targeted homes in Blackpool, Poulton and Garstang – persuading vulnerable pensioners to hand over hundreds of pounds in return for a freezer-full of rotting, inedible fish.
Reports have also been made of the salesmen visiting homes in other parts of the county, including Chorley and Leyland.
Now Lancashire County Council trading standards chiefs have warned pensioners to be on their guard.
County Coun Janice Hanson, cabinet member for public protection, said: “The best place to buy fish is from a reputable fishmonger at an established shop or stall or from a regular roundsman.
“You are taking a risk by buying on the doorstep from an unknown trader as this fish may be of poor quality or be unfit to eat.
“Several elderly consumers in Lancashire have been misled into thinking they are buying a few pounds worth of fish, then feel pressurised into having to pay an enormous bill and accept more fish than their freezers can take.
“We would advise residents never to deal with cold-callers on the doorstep.”
Jane Burrows, 77, from central Blackpool, spoke out after being pressured into buying a bag that was not fit for human consumption and warned: “It could kill somebody.”
Ms Burrows, who lives alone, was shocked when a man let himself into her home and demanded £156 for a bag of fish when she confronted him.
She paid £88 for the bag in a bid to get him to leave. But it turned out to be inedible whiting. She said: “It’s not just the money – if an older person eats it and gets food poisoning, it’s like a death sentence.”
After realising she had been conned, Ms Burrows told her daughter, Tracey Cleary, who took the whiting to a local fishmonger. Janet Bradley, who works at The Lobster Pot, on Whitegate Drive, said: “It looked disgusting. If someone ate it, it would make them very poorly.
“I worked out a box like that would cost me about £2 if it was fresh, less if it was frozen, and she got 12 boxes for £88.”