Nottinghamshire residents are being warned about door-to-door fish salesmen who are visiting households and are tempting them to persuade them to buy hundreds of pounds of fish.
Householders are given the impression that they are only buying a few pieces but are then presented with a freezer-filling amount of largely unlabelled fish, some of which is unfit to eat, plus a bill for two or three hundred pounds.
The fish scam is a growing national problem and the County Council’s Trading Standards service has received a recent complaint on behalf of a Bingham 80-year old-lady who was persuaded to a buy a basketful of fish by a doorstep trader at a cost of £156.
The warning comes during National Scam Awareness Month and there are concerns that such traders are not registered food sellers as required by law and are not complying with food and hygiene regulations.
It is often not clear what species of fish that they are selling or where the fish was caught, its origins and whether it contains any additives.
Doorstep sellers also tend not to offer customers cancellation rights or a receipt to allow them to seek a refund if they are not satisfied with the goods.
The Bingham lady, who does not want to be named, said: “A young lad knocked on my door selling fish and he said he would return when I agreed to buy some.
“Another man came back and barged his way through my house and placed a huge basket of fish in my freezer.
“I was caught off guard and he handed me a credit card machine when I said I couldn’t pay by cash and told me the receipt was in the bag.
“There was no receipt and I’ve been billed £156 for the fish which I can’t even eat as it looks disgusting.
“This is the dirtiest trick that has ever been played on me – I usually say no to people at the door and I won’t be tricked again.”
Coun Glynn Gilfoyle, Chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Safety Committee, said: “These doorstep traders use aggressive sale techniques to coerce vulnerable residents to buy their fish which is often unlabelled and comes without a receipt so they can be tracked down if there is a problem.
“There are significant health concerns about food from an unknown source so we urge all residents to be firm and say no to all traders selling food at their doorstep.
“We advise that the best place to buy fish is from a reputable fishmonger at an established shop or stall.”
Anyone who had been approached by fish sellers in this manner should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06.