An elderly great-grandmother is one of several seniors in Western Australia who have fallen victim to a group of travelling conmen who have scammed thousands of dollars from vulnerable people by posing as tradies.
Gloria Duffy was left $7,500 out of pocket after two men knocked on the door of her home, in the Hamilton Hill area of Perth, and promised to repair and paint her roof.
The unsuspecting gran handed over $3,000 after one of the alleged workers began painting her roof, however the men then demanded a further $4,500 to replace asbestos sheets. But, after she agreed and handed over the huge sum of cash, the men vanished and left the work incomplete.
“He was just such a nice young man, spoke lovely and I thought – he seems honest enough,” the 81-year-old told Nine News.
The Western Australian government and WA Police issued a warning this week about the two men, who are described as speaking in either English, Irish or Scottish accents and use the unregistered business name of Best Choice Home Improvement.
“We urge homeowners who are approached by people they believe are scamming them to call Police on 131 444 and report the suspicious behaviour immediately,” Senior Sergeant Stephen Castledine said.
“Descriptions of the men and their vehicles as well as licence plate numbers would assist us greatly in locating them. Home owners who may have CCTV vision of the men at their home are urged to come forward.”
In another case, an elderly man from Mount Hawthorn paid $8,000 to the same scammers who approached him in his driveway and came back to the home next day to carry out roofing work.
The crooks accepted a card payment for the work, however the man’s bank flagged the transaction as suspicious and it failed to go through.
Another consumer in Cannington was approached by men driving a similar vehicle who claimed that they were roof tilers and said there was a hole in his roof that needed repairing.
One of the men climbed up on the roof and returned with a broken tile which the consumer believes was broken off by the conman. The offer to fix the roof was declined by the home owner who had to fix the damage caused.
Lanie Chopping, from WA Consumer Protection, said authorities’ need the community’s help to stop these travelling conmen.
“These conmen are highly mobile so people who are approached should contact Police immediately so they can be tracked down,” she said. “They prey on seniors and others in our community, misleading them into thinking their roof is in need of urgent repairs or painting when this is not necessarily the case. They then do dodgy work, if they do any work at all.”
WA Police have received several reports, with another consumer revealing he was approached at his home by three men in a white utility wearing fluoro shirts who told him that his roof and gutters needed urgent repairs, who quoted $7,000, for the job.
And, in a fifth report, an elderly couple in Fremantle said they were approached in a similar way and the scammers were coming back to begin the work but a family member stepped in to prevent the work going ahead.