An elderly woman who lives alone has warned of rogue builders who tried to scam her out of €2,000 after pulling tiles off the roof of her Dublin home.
The woman, who asked to be known only as Kathleen and is in her 70s, explained the sequence of events that turned an inconvenience into a frightening extortion at her Mount Merrion home.
"I was coming back from the local park two weeks ago when I saw a workman coming out of my drive," she said. "The next day he called back and I didn't open the door. However, he called back again on the Friday and I was curious to know what he wanted, so I opened the door.
"He told me I had a hole in my roof and gave me a flyer. I wasn't aware of a hole, but when I looked I could see it. But now I wonder did he cause it in the first place.
"I tried ringing a few places but they said they couldn't come out, and my son took up the flyer and rang the number. The man told him it would be €100 to fix it and my son agreed. He feels a bit guilty now but it wasn't his fault," Kathleen added.
"Then three men arrived and went up on the roof, and things suddenly turned. I was very frightened. They started pulling tiles off the roof and one of them told me I had a big problem and it would cost €2,000 to fix.
"I was vary scared and I panicked, so I rang a friend of mine who works in property and told her what was happening. She came straight around with a builder she knows, and they told the three workers to leave immediately.
"Thankfully, no money changed hands and my son got somebody else locally to come and help.
"I have reported this to gardai and they are investigating it. I've heard other stories of vulnerable people paying between €5,000 and €20,000 to these scammers."
Tom Fahey, of the Mount Merrion Residents' Association, said it was important to get the word out about these scammers.
"If you need work done on your house, always engage a reputable contractor and get a quote in writing before you agree to have any work done," he said.
Local independent councillor Deirdre Donnelly said: "The scammers seem to target people who are living on their own. This goes beyond the financial hardship suffered by the victims. The psychological trauma afterwards can be a lot worse."