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Conmen on the prowl; beware

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If a tradesman unexpectedly appears at your door with an offer that sounds too good to be true, they may be a travelling con man. For more information, visit www.consumer.vic.gov.au/resources-and-tools/scams/travelling-con-men. Photo: Asphalt Concepts
If a tradesman unexpectedly appears at your door with an offer that sounds too good to be true, they may be a travelling con man. For more information, visit www.consumer.vic.gov.au/resources-and-tools/scams/travelling-con-men. Photo: Asphalt Concepts

By Jessica Howard

Bogus tradesmen are targeting Bacchus Marsh properties by offering dodgy asphalt laying services at a discounted rate.

The posing tradesmen are believed to have approached residents by cold calling their home and offering asphalt at a price of $20 per square-metre.

Targeted residents told the Moorabool News that the men spoke with an Irish accent and drove unsigned vehicles, with New South Wales registration plates.

The men reportedly told residents they had left-over asphalt after working on either a nearby road, or at Bacchus Marsh Grammar.

Bacchus Marsh Grammar Principal, Andrew Neal said the school has not employed any contractors to lay asphalt for a period of around three-years.

“Whoever is selling their services along these lines certainly haven’t done it with our imprimatur,” he said.

Victims of the scam were reportedly asked to pay the money upfront via bank transfer, with some residents paying anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000.

The tradesmen have then laid the asphalt at a depth of around only two-centimeters.

The standard depth for a residential driveway, where the natural sub-base is solid, is 7.5-centimetres*.

Following the service, one victim was allegedly asked to pay close to double the amount of the original quote.

Between 2016 and 2017, Consumer Affairs Victoria received 207 reports of travelling conmen in Victoria – a 39 per cent increase on the previous year.

A campaign launched in October 2017 by Consumer Affairs Victoria and Crime Stoppers Victoria provides useful information to help stop Victorians falling victim to travelling conmen.

At the launch, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Marlene Kairouz said it is important to always be careful about accepting unsolicited offers for maintenance work.

“Don’t be afraid to ask someone to leave if it doesn’t feel right,” she said.

If you think you see a scam happening in your area, report them to your local police or the National Travelling Conmen Hotline on 1300 133 408.

* source – Australian Asphalt Pavement Association.