Aug 05, 2022

Elderly man nearly $100k out of pocket over roof scam

Elderly man nearly $100,000 out of pocket over roof scam

A group of alleged scammers that tried to flee the country after providing shoddy roof work, which cost an 81-year-old Melbourne victim $99,000, have been caught and charged by Victorian police.

The elderly man who was caught up in the roof scam paid an exorbitant amount of money for “maintenance work” and was left with a leaky roof that required the use of pots and pans around his home to catch the water dripping through.

This week, four people were charged with allegedly providing shoddy and fraudulent building work across Melbourne, totalling more than $640,000, with a fifth potential scammer being investigated further.

During July, police received reports from within the Boroondara community that tradesmen were conducting “expensive works” on roofs in the area, but leaving the homes in “states of disrepair” or unfinished.

Senior Constable Lachlan Balazs of the Boroondara Crime Investigation Unit, said, “When people fall victim to a scam, the impact often goes way beyond the immediate financial damage that is caused.

“For many the emotional distress and loss of confidence and trust in others is just as damaging as the financial fallout.”

Police alleged that the group pretended to be a legitimate, licensed roofing organisation and convinced over 20 suspected victims.

Independent inspections of the work were conducted, which found that the work quoted was either never required, incomplete, or was of poor workmanship, as well as the amounts quoted being deemed excessive.

Some of the victims were told their roofs had major defects, while some victims allege they were told their roofs were “at risk of collapse”.

Three of the alleged scammers – a 35-year-old male, 23-year-old male, and 21-year-old male – have been charged by police for deception offences and dealing with proceeds of crime, while another 21-year-old male was charged with obtaining property by deception. 

A 20-year-old female was also interviewed by police in regards to dealing with proceeds of crime but was released pending further enquiries.

Senior Constable Balazs is asking for other members of the community to come forward if they have been affected by similar activities or suspect they have fallen victim to illegitimate building work.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) had alerted the Victorian police this week when one of the alleged scammers, an Irish national, was caught trying to board a flight back to Ireland with his brother’s passport.

Three of the other scammers, all British Nationals, were stopped by the ABF while trying to board an international flight. Only one of the scammers – the 35-year-old – didn’t try to leave the country.

This crime bust is part of a police initiative, Operation Suddenblaze, to catch travelling conmen in Australia.

Superintendent Nicholas Walker of the ABF’s Aviation Operations, said, “These arrests show ABF officers are determined to stop people who might try and bypass our border processes.

“The ABF targets travelling conmen who seek to exploit vulnerable people. We are working with state police to identify and disrupt the criminal activities of travelling conmen through Operation Suddenblaze.”

One of the alleged scammers will be facing court in September, another alleged scammer is set to attend court in October, and the other two alleged scammers will be appearing in court in December.

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  1. These scammers have been coming over from the UK & Ireland for many years now & been warnings of how people have been taken in by them There should be warnings to people, mainly the elderly, by councils & other related entities, of what to look out for & not be taken in by their door knocking & offering cheap & false information regarding their properties.

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