Some are said to knock on the story with a fanciful tale about a local hotel which accidentally ordered too many mattresses, and instead of sending them back for a full refund decided the best approach was to knock on doors and sell them at a '70% discount'. Others describe the mattresses simply as 'clearance stock'.
The sellers are often well presented, and issue paperwork with contact details to make them seem legitimate. However, these details are false, so consumers will not be able to contact anyone for a refund.
Apparently they come from a couple of sources - both of which make them unsafe to use. Rather unpleasantly, some are picking up dirty old mattresses that have been thrown away. They wrap them to obscure the state of them, and then knock on doors. There's no telling what kinds of horrors lie within - including bed bugs.
The second source is overseas, because dodgy traders are importing them without the proper safety certificates. It means there's no telling where they have come from, or what standards they have been made to, and whether they, for example, pose a fire risk. Buyers are duped by the fact that the traders will rewrap the mattresses, often using branded wrapping from reputable firms, so they don't suspect the real source.
There have been dodgy mattress traders revealed in Devon and Somerset (where the number of people ripped off by the scammers has increased tenfold between January and August), Dorset, Wiltshire, Derby, Norfolk and Enfield.
Simon Blackburn, the chairman of the LGA's safer and stronger communities board, said: "Some councils have reported a recent surge in mattress scam complaints but many victims won't realise they have been conned and could be sleeping on a potential death trap. These unscrupulous traders have no interest in the safety of the products they sell and some have now taken to selling mattresses which could create a fireball in people's homes if they catch light."
"These mattresses may be described as memory foam but are carefully wrapped so you have no idea what you are buying. They generally fail fire safety tests and are often worn-out, dirty and unhygienic items destined for the tip."
"Anyone offered a cheap mattress on their doorstep should not buy one."
What can you do?
The general rule of never buying anything on the doorstep still stands. There's always a risk the seller is a rogue trader, but even if they are legitimate, you have no idea whether what they are selling constitutes a good deal or not.
Many of these items are also sold at discounts that seem too good to be true. There's a very good reason for that: they're a complete fiction, and the item in question was never worth what they are claiming.
If you are approached by one of these rogue traders, Blackburn says it's important to call Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06, who will pass on your information to trading standards or the police.
Victims of scams and fraud
Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here.
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here.
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here.
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here.
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.