A CON artist scammed an elderly couple in the middle of the night – by claiming her son had been stabbed and she needed money to go to hospital.
Margaret Broadbent, 68, and her husband Robin, 74, were fast asleep in their Addiscombe home when the doorbell rang.
Mrs Broadbent, of Hithbarrow Road, explained: "She was a young mixed-race girl, about 30, and she kept ringing the bell and knocking until we answered at 2am; we were very sleepy and shocked.
"She asked us to drive her to King's College Hospital [in Camberwell] as her son had been stabbed and she was on her own with young children. We were unable to drive as we had been out for a meal with friends and had drunk some wine.
"She persisted and asked for help so we told her to go to an ATM for cab money, but she said she couldn't. In our sleepy state we gave her £40 and she said she would return in the morning with our cash to collect a broken watch she left for us."
However, the woman did not return and the couple decided they had to contact the police, for fear of her conning other residents.
Mrs Broadbent, who was targeted on April 24, said: "We reported her to the police the next day, who knew of her and asked us to warn local people. We hope our story can keep folk safe from theft and possible intruders.
"It was a very shocking thing to have happened, and we were so sleepy and disorientated it was very easy for her to get money off us.
"People around the area need to know and make sure they don't succumb to this scam as we did, as it's obvious she is targeting lots of people in the area."
Sergeant John Nunn, from Ashburton Safer Neighbourhood Team, is now warning local residents about the woman, who has been committing the doorstep scam in the Woodside, Addiscombe, and Ashburton areas.
He said: "The woman has been knocking at apparently random addresses late at night, or in the early hours of the morning, banging and shouting hysterically.
"She then claims that a family member has been taken to hospital, and she needs to get there. She usually states that she has a number of children, and they all need to get to hospital.
"The woman has been offered lifts and declined, saying she needs to get a taxi. Residents have deceived by this story and given her money for a taxi.
"This whole story is a scam. Residents are advised to call 999 should anyone knock on their door with a similar story, at any time of day, and not to hand over any money. "
If you have been the victim of a similar scam, e-mail Ashburton.SNT@met.police.uk or call police on 101.