Beware: con men on the move


THE state government is warning Victorians about a coming spike in the number of dodgy door-to-door tradespeople trying to rip off people.

Consumer affairs minister Jane Garrett said summer was the peak time for con men offering cheap “today only” cash deals on jobs such as painting, roof and driveway repairs.

In 2014-15, Consumer Affairs Victoria received 486 reports of travelling con men, with reported losses totalling $1.35 million. Reports spike between January and March.

Ms Garrett said con men often ask for cash payments up front, then take the money and run. They leave behind unfinished or poor quality work.

Victorians are encouraged to report con men to a national hot line – 1300 133 408 – or call police.

Detective Senior Sergeant Steve Fyffe of Frankston police said a gang of Irish gypsies several years ago had conned several “vulnerable” elderly homeowners out of tens of thousands of dollars by promising to repair their roofs.

The gang extracted deposit money and cash for supplies, returned next day and appeared to do work on the roof but caused more damage, he said. Some con men used fake business cards from a legitimate company.

The men were caught, had their visas revoked and were deported to Ireland.

Sergeant Fyffe urged residents to be careful of itinerant tradies. Never pay money up front. If the price sounds too good to be true it usually is.

“If you need a tradie, look online or in the Yellow Pages,” he said.

First published in the Mornington News – 3 November 2015


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