Victorians are being urged to be cautious of fake tradies ahead of summer following a 200 per cent increase in the total amount of money lost by victims.
Almost $3 million was lost by Victorians last year, up from $1 million the previous year. Margaret Connell is just one of the hundreds of Victorians who lost money when she was scammed out of more than $10,000 after she engaged the services of individuals she believed to be reputable tradies.
The fake tradies initially requested an upfront payment of $6000 before returning the next day to collect more money. Once they received the money, they left without finishing the rest of the job, while the work that had been completed during the first visit was of extremely poor quality.
Fake tradies knock on doors of homes and small businesses, or send flyers out offering to complete maintenance work, driveway resurfacing, painting or roof repairs at a cheap rate. They are more prolific in warmer weather and Victorians are being reminded to be vigilant.
Often the work they promise to do is either carried out to a poor standard, or never eventuates at all, with the fake tradies disappearing as soon as they have been paid.
They commonly target the most vulnerable people in society, such as older Victorians, people who are not proficient in English or people with a disability.
Residents are reminded to adopt the following practices when they are considering having work done on their property:
- Use established tradespeople who provide written quotes
- Independently find the business’ contact details if someone claims to be working for a company
- Be cautious of individuals seeking upfront payment for works
- Do not sign any agreement that doesn’t seem legitimate.
Victorians should report any interactions with suspected fake tradies to Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 133 408.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz
“Fake tradies move quickly from town to town. Once they scam enough locals in one area, they often change business names, falsify their identities and continue their horrible practices in another town.”
“It’s devastating to see how much money these conmen are fleecing from innocent victims. I encourage everyone to do their due diligence when hiring tradespeople.”
“The next few months will be a peak time for scammers, and Victorians need to be wary and report any suspicious behaviour to get these dodgy tradies off the streets.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020