Elderly people are being targeted by a fake mattress scam as con men are flogging beds which they claim have the latest hi-tech memory foam, but are actually stolen from skips and refurbished.
The UK Local Government Association is reporting a steep rise in reports of doorstep traders offering bogus "Dreams" mattresses out of the back of vans, with the figure rising ten-fold over the past two years in some areas.
Some of the mattresses it had seized and tested looked new but were "filthy" inside and contained dead human skin and urine stains.
Others had fake fire-resistant labels and failed fire safety tests, meaning the could pose a potential hazard in people's homes.
The salesmen are convincing members of the public by presenting legitimate looking paperwork for customers to sign. However it contains false or limited contact details which makes it almost impossible for a consumer to get their money back under the 14-day "cooling off period".
It comes amid a boom in legitimate companies offering "advanced" memory foam mattresses which mould to the shape of sleepers, and claim to offer a better night's rest for those with back problems.
Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service has issued a warning to residents after it saw a tenfold increase in mattress scam complaints, from two in 2014 to 20 between January and August this year.
Meanwhile Dorset County Council prosecuted a trader for possessing 213 mattresses - and supplying two - which failed fire safety tests, and Enfield Council prosecuted a father and son who used false trade marks on mattresses and misleading van signage.
Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: "These unscrupulous traders have no interest in the safety of the products they sell and some have now taken to selling mattresses which could create a fireball in people's homes if they catch light.
"These fly-by-night sellers don't care about the risks these mattresses pose, they just want to make a quick buck and leave you with phoney details so they can't be traced.
"Anyone offered a cheap mattress on their doorstep should not buy one. People should only buy mattresses from reputable suppliers."
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