Dead rats are being left on people’s doorsteps in a new scam that left one victim “horrified” and in tears.

Helston town councillor Ronnie Williams has spoken of how he came home to find his wife Debbie “sobbing” after making the gruesome discovery on Wednesday evening.

Mrs Williams received a visit from a woman claiming to be from the Environment Agency, saying they had reports of a problem with vermin in the Beacon Parc area where she lives.

The woman asked for Mrs Willliams’ telephone number, so she could call in a week to see if there were any further developments.

Despite being unaware of any problem, Mrs Williams gave her number and the woman left, but only 90 minutes later a man rang to say she had “definitely got a vermin problem.”

When Mrs Williams again denied it, the man told her to look in her back garden – which is when she discovered four dead rats lying near her doorstep and path.

Falmouth Packet:

The rats as they were discovered by Mrs Williams

The man then offered to remove them “for half the price” of a professional contractor, which is when she became suspicious and hung up before breaking down in tears.

Reporting the upsetting incident to the town council, Mr Williams said: “I got home from work about quarter to seven and my wife was breaking her heart sobbing, on the floor, absolutely hysterical.

“It frightened the life out of her.

“If you saw my wife, to be treated like that and her in the state she was in, I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

He believed them to be pet rats that had been killed, as they had white strips down their middles, adding: “They were obviously planted there by this gentleman, who must have been outside all the time.”

Mrs Williams told the Packet she was “horrified,” by what had happened. She said: “There were four, big black rats. It was disgusting.

“It was lucky I didn’t part with my money. It’s so horrifying to find dead rats close to your back door that I might have been upset enough to say yes, come and take them away.

“Someone coming to the back of your property and throwing rats in your backyard is horrible.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said it was normally the responsibility of the local authority, rather than the EA, to deal with pest control, adding: “When you’re dealing with a proper Environment Agency officer we would always have photographic identification.

“We would condemn anybody who tries to trick people into taking action through what is basically a scam.”

Mr Williams also criticised how difficult it was to get hold of the police to report it, saying he spent nearly an hour trying to call them on 101, before driving to Helston Police Station to see if any officers were around, despite it no longer being open to the public.

He finally managed to speak to a “very helpful” lady via the public phone outside the station, who tried calling the telephones inside but with no success, so Mr Williams was advised to report it online.

Recalling that the councillors had recently been told by a Helston police officer that Helston was “the safest place to live,” Mr Williams said: “He said, ‘We get very little complaints. Well it’s no wonder because they won’t answer the phone.”