The Andrews Labor Government is targeting teams of con men who are systematically fleecing vulnerable people across Victoria.
In the last six months, there have been 250 reports of con men who, in December alone, collected $300,000 from the elderly, stay at home mums, the disabled and people with low English proficiency.
Summer is a peak time for the scammers, who use bullying tactics to pressure householders into handing over thousands of dollars for substandard or incomplete roofing, painting, cleaning and repair jobs.
The aftermath of severe storms often lure the con men to the suburbs and regions where homes need urgent repairs.
The Minister for Consumer Affairs, Jane Garrett, says many victims are left traumatised by the heavy-handed tactics.
A common tactic is demanding cash up front, leaving householders out of pocket when the con man does a runner. Another trick is the deal that is “only available today”.
Consumer Affairs Victoria is working with police and immigration officials, along with interstate consumer agencies, to find and stop the con men who often speak with Irish accents.
A new television, radio and print campaign, developed with Crime Stoppers, will inform people of the tricks con men use before they – and the money – vanish. The travelling Con Men Hotline is 1300 133 408.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Consumer Affairs, Jane Garrett
“Con men are lurking around storm damaged suburbs and pressuring vulnerable people to hand over cash. It’s disgraceful.”
“These heartless con men are in the Government’s sights. The game is up.”
“Never pay cash up front for a promised job. People have the law on their side when they refuse demands.”
“If you think there’s a problem, report tradesmen who don’t seem legitimate.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020