Three conmen from the UK and Ireland have been jailed after swindling over $434,000 off elderly Australian homeowners as part of an elaborate roofing scam.
Johnny Dooley, 31, Joseph Ball, 31, and Michael Dooley, 36, ran a fake roofing business by targeting wealthy residents in the Victorian suburbs of Melvern, Hawthorn and Kew.
The trio would go door-to-door knocking on their victim’s homes, telling the residents they noticed minor issues on their roofs and offering them a small quote for their repair work.
The fake tradies would then purposefully damage the roofing tiles, and then tell the homeowners they had discovered further damage that would cost thousands of dollars to fix.
The court heard that the men targeted the vulnerable elderly often in their 80s and 90s, who felt pressured into paying the heavy fees because of the men’s insistence and because they had already started the repair work.
The scheme ran over a five-month period from February 2020 to July 2020 and saw the three men register numerous fake businesses, use several aliases, and register phones and vehicles under false identities to avoid being caught.
In one instance, a man was scammed out of $102,000 after he was led into believing asbestos has been found on his roof and needed immediate action.
In a separate incident, an elderly couple was approved by Johnny and Michael Dooly and were told their roof needed retiling.
The couple agreed to get the repairs done and wrote out a cheque for the men, only for the Dooley’s to return the following day claiming the couple’s cheque had been dishonoured.
The men had told the couple they needed to pay $100,00 for a crane bond that would later be refunded from their bank. In total, they paid $147,888 for the fake contractor’s services.
Another elderly man was conned out of $18,000 and was left with an uninhabitable house.
“I was shocked at being duped and extremely disappointed at my trust being abused,” the man said in a victim impact statement.
Over the five-month period, their modus operandi scammed 43 people over 37 separate incidents, this does not include the four separate victims of identity theft.
As reported by the ABC, Judge Michael O’Connell told Victoria’s County Court the conmen “unhesitatingly” targeted vulnerable, elderly residents for their own benefit.
“Invariably, they were elderly, they felt keenly the need to have a sound roof over their heads and they were in no position to challenge your false representations as to the need for repairs and the costs of carrying out those repairs,” he said.