AN elderly Victorian man was allegedly swindled out of $30,000 by a group of dodgy tradies, leading to the arrest of four members of a team of British travelling con men.
The victim, from Beaumaris, commissioned the tradies to work on his roof but it’s alleged they later told him he had been fined $20,000 for asbestos offences. The man paid the money, but when his daughter learned what had happened she contacted Consumer Affairs Victoria and police arrested the workers.
The case has prompted Consumer Affairs Victoria to issue a warning about the risks of dealing with people who doorknock or letterbox drop offering services such as roof or driveway repairs, painting or any other home maintenance jobs.
Dodgy tradies are not a new problem but they have adopted some more devious practices including genuine ABN and company numbers and realistic-looking websites. They also post signage on power poles or traffic lights and doorknock with “today-only” specials.
According to Consumer Affairs Victoria, the fake tradies actively target the elderly and vulnerable – looking for properties with handrails and ramps; and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The dodgy operators will offer to do work at a seemingly bargain price but will often ask for a deposit to buy materials – and never return or do very little or substandard work.
Fake tradies appear more frequently during warmer weather and after natural disasters such as floods, fires and storms, when vulnerable people are cleaning up or repairing their properties.
If you want work done, Consumer Affairs Victoria recommends shopping around for a quote that is right for you and only using established tradespeople who provide written quotes.
If possible, only deal with someone who has previously done quality work for a family member or friend and ask for contact details of previous clients to check references.
Ask for the tradesperson’s full name and registration and licence details (if applicable) to check with the appropriate industry authority; and don’t sign any agreement until you are ready.
- For information on dodgy tradies: 1300-558-181, consumer.vic.gov.au/faketradies