Minister for Consumer Affairs Jane Garrett is warning of an impending seasonal spike in the number of dodgy door-to-door tradespeople trying to rip off hardworking Victorians.
Summer is the peak season for travelling con men who offer cheap ‘today only’ cash deals on jobs such as painting, roof repairs and pouring driveways.
Since July, there have been more than 40 reports of travelling con men operating in Victoria, in communities at Yarrawonga, Rowville, Mill Park, Wantirna, Burwood East and Coldstream. That number is tipped to rise as the weather warms up.
In 2014-15, Consumer Affairs Victoria received 486 reports of travelling con men, with the reported losses totalling $1.35 million. Reports spiked between January and March 2015, with a total of 200 reports.
The con men often ask for cash payments upfront, then take the money and run. They leave behind work that is unfinished or of poor quality.
Resident Philippa Maloney-Walsh was conned out of thousands of dollars by a band of dodgy tradespeople who offered to carry out roof sealing works on her home. They botched the job and left her with a hefty bill to fix it.
The warning marks the launch of a Consumer Affairs Victoria and Crime Stoppers Victoria campaign which aims to educate residents about to how to identify and say no to door-to-door tradespeople. It will run on TV, radio and in print publications until March 2016.
Victorians are encouraged to report travelling con men activities to the national hot line – 1300 133 408 – or to their local police.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett
“Travelling con men are fleecing Victorians of thousands of dollars and often leave their victims distressed and out-of-pocket.”
“Summer is a peak time for scammers to strike because that’s when many people plan to renovate. We also see an increase after a storm or fire when people are vulnerable and desperate to repair their homes.”
“Never pay cash upfront to a door-to-door tradesperson and make sure report anyone who you think might be a travelling con man.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020