An elderly couple have become a target for cowboy builders after a rogue trader left a coded message to other conmen in their driveway.

The vulnerable couple, who wish to remain anonymous, were approached by a builder who convinced them to let him repave their driveway.

He disappeared before the work was completed – but not before overcharging them by £4,000 and leaving a distinctive squared pattern in the middle of the driveway.

The homeowners hadn’t asked for a pattern to be included, but thought nothing of it – until a series of tradesmen began to call round, all offering work the house didn’t need.

The conman left a message on the couple's driveway

The unsolicited calls and visits by dodgy tradesmen went on for four years, with many offering to re-do the work the original builder had left unfinished.

The most recent incident in November saw a man tell the victim he was entitled to £14,000 compensation for the poor work – but needed £6,000 in order to release it.

Fortunately, the victims had their suspicions and did not hand over any money. Little is known about the tradesmen who’ve been visiting the house, other than the fact that they were a mixture of English, Irish and Romanian males.

At the end of their tether, the couple eventually phoned the police, who say they believe the pattern was left as a message to other tradesmen that the home was an easy target.

The 70-year-old victim said: “We paid for the work to be done, but they never sanded or sealed the driveway.

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“A second lot came along, then another group, then another. I believe the paving symbol, which I didn’t ask for, is a signal for other people to look out for.

“My concern is they could be targeting other elderly people. There could be some gullible old woman living by herself thinking she has to pay up.

“I think these people will continue to try their luck with others.”

A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “There are grounds to suspect it is there to identify the house as a potential target for these types of offences.”

Police are urging pensioners in the area to be vigilant, as it’s feared this may not be an isolated incident.

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