AN 82-year-old Runcorn woman has been targeted by bogus callers who claimed to be working for the council and offered to cut back her trees.

They asked for £1,300 in cash to carry out the work.

The pensioner went to the bank and then while did some shopping in town one of the scammers got out of his parked van and asked her for the money.

She reluctantly agreed to give him half, the other half to be paid after the job was done.

The conman took her money saying that he would count it out - but he then walked off with all her cash.

At 8am the following morning the same rogue called at the woman's house telling her she had a "rat infestation" and he could get rid of them for £1,000.

He told her to go to the bank and he would return for the money.

Halton council's executive board member for Trading Standards Cllr Dave Cargill said: "The man does not work for the council.

"All council employees wear identity badges and they will not ask you for cash.

"If you think you have been caught out by a rogue trader please contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline who will forward your details to Trading Standards.

"If you think you have rats on your property Halton Borough Council will provide rat treatments free of charge to Halton residents.

"The operatives will never ask for a payment, they wear HBC uniform, carry HBC identity cards and drive vans marked 'Environmental Protection'.”

Councillor Cargill said readers can ask for a rat treatment by telephoning the council’s switchboard 0303 333 4300 or click the "report pest issue" button on their website.

If you or somebody you know has been caught out by a fraud contact one of the local authority's specialist officers, Linda or Sue on 0151 511 8785 or 0151 511 8775.

They are already working with people in Halton who have lost thousands of pounds to scams.

If you need advice on anything else you can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline or 03454 04 05 06