VULNERABLE pensioners in Sully have handed over significant sums of cash to rogue traders, after being conned into paying for unnecessary work to be carried out at their homes.

It is understood at least three elderly people on South Road and Minehead Avenue – and possibly many more – have been targeted in recent weeks, prompting South Wales Police to launch a major operation in the area.

In some instances the men in question have masqueraded as environmental health officials, telling victims they had received reports informing them of rat infestations that had to be dealt with. In other cases, they have pressurised residents into paying hundreds of pounds for menial and unnecessary work.

Helen Flowers, 38, of South Road, Sully, said that one of her neighbours had been among those targeted and had handed over £750 to the group.

After first being offered to have his drive jet washed for £400, which he refused, a group then returned several days later pretending to be environmental health officials.

They said four of his neighbours had complained about a rat infestation and charged him £750 up front to remove them, before demanding a further £2,000 over the phone later on.

While he went to the bank to withdraw the cash, staff identified what was going on and contacted the police.

South Wales Police have launched Operation Eagle to target the perpetrators, as well as to identify those behind a recent spate of burglaries in the Vale.

They are also continuing to investigate a number of cases of people impersonating police officers, who have convinced victims to hand over money.

A 16-year-old has been arrested and released on bail in connection with these incidents and on Monday (March 26), officers seized eight separate vehicles as part of a co-ordinated operation.

Sergeant Julie Madoc-Smart of Penarth Police Station said: “Operation Eagle was designed to disrupt criminals travelling on the roads and to specifically target rogue traders and criminals who commit doorstep crime.

“These criminals will prey on the elderly and vulnerable people in our communities.

“We would like to ask the public to be vigilant and to report any unusual or suspicious behaviour.”