WOULD-be customers should be on their guard for rogue scrap metal dealers advertising on Facebook and other social media sites, Wiltshire Council has said.

It follows the fifth successful prosecution of a scrap metal dealer by the council. Marlborough woman Ann Antoni pleaded guilty to collecting scrap without a licence and transporting controlled waste without the correct waste carrier’s licence. Salisbury magistrates ordered her to pay £1,856.28 in fines and costs.

Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways and transport, issued a warning to those thinking of hiring a scrap metal dealer to take away their waste: “I would like to remind residents to always check the credentials of those collecting their scrap metal and to be wary of adverts on social media, offering scrap metal collection.

“These prosecutions send a warning to other illegal scrap collectors. If you collect scrap in our area, without a licence, you face substantial fines.

"Ignorance of the law is no defence and we will continue to clamp down on illegal traders.”

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 was introduced to tackle rising levels of metal theft, ban the use of cash for all scrap metal payments and enable authorities to clamp down on unscrupulous dealers and collectors.

Anyone collecting scrap metal or dealing in vehicle dismantling must be licensed by their local authority.

Licensed waste collectors should have their photo licence displayed in their van.

All licensed scrap metal dealers are checked by Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Police and Trading Standards, including a criminal record check.