Victoria Police have arrested and charged four people who are accused of scamming Melbourne residents, as they allegedly attempted to escape the country undetected after the fact.
- Four men have been arrested and charged in relation to a roofing scam
- Police allege the scam netted more than $640,000
- Police believe more than 20 Melbourne residents were affected by the scam
Police allege the group scammed more than 20 Melbourne residents by posing as workers from a legitimate roofing company, collecting more than $640,000 after telling home owners their roofs needed urgent repairs.
A 21-year-old Irish national allegedly involved in the scam was detained at Tullamarine Airport on July 28 after allegedly trying to board a flight to Ireland with his brother’s passport.
Police say the accused man charged an 81-year-old Kew resident $99,000 for repair works on his roof between May and June 2022 and ultimately left it in worse condition, with the owner “forced to use pots and pans inside the house” to combat leaks.
Pair attempts to leave country days after first arrest
Police later arrested three males on July 31 in connection to a further $540,000 worth of alleged roofing scams this year.
Two of the men were also caught by Australian Border Force (ABF) officials attempting to board a flight out of the country at Tullamarine Airport, while a 20-year-old female travelling with the pair was released after questioning.
ABF Superintendent Nicholas Walker said the two British nationals and the Irish national had tried to make their escape when they were arrested.
“These were deliberate attempts to slip out of the country undetected and the decisive action of the ABF officers who stopped them should serve as a warning to anyone else looking to do the same,” Superintendent Walker said.
“The ABF targets travelling con men who seek to exploit vulnerable people. We are working with state police to identify and disrupt the criminal activities of travelling con men through Operation Suddenblaze.”
A 35-year-old male was also arrested in Oakleigh later that day and subsequently charged with deception offences and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
Subsequent independent inspections of residents affected by the scam identified that works quoted for were never required, incomplete or were of poor workmanship, with amounts quoted deemed excessive.
It follows the jailing of a separate trio of men who targeted elderly Victorians with an elaborate roofing scam in 2020.
Senior Constable Lachlan Balazs from the Boroondara Crime Investigation Unit said crimes such as the roofing scam often affected vulnerable Victorians the most.
“Sadly, it is often some of the more vulnerable or elderly members of our society who are most impacted. For many the emotional distress and loss of confidence and trust in others is just as damaging as the financial fallout,” Senior Constable Balazs said.
Police said a Toorak resident who found the group through an internet advertisement was advised by the scammers she required over $31,900 in roof repairs, which she paid.
An independent roof inspector later advised that the only work conducted appear to be the replacement of a downpipe, which was valued at $350 worth of work.
Senior Constable Balazs said it was likely there were still more victims affected by the scams who had not come forward.
“There is a possibility that further members of the community have been affected by similar activity and we are urging anyone who suspects they may have fallen victim to illegitimate building work of this nature to come forward.”