Scam tradies on the rise in NSW
Con artists posing as tradespeople are “active in NSW right now”, the state’s Fair Trading has warned.
NSW Fair Trading has warned home owners to beware “charming conmen” who offer “deals too good to be true”.
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The consumer watchdog recently received four complaints from NSW home owners about travelling conmen posing as legitimate tradespeople.
The scam artists offer home maintenance services, like cleaning driveways and sealing roofs, then disappear as soon as they are paid, leaving work incomplete or in extremely poor condition. Door-knocking, letterbox drops and online advertisements are often used to reach targets.
“These scammers are deceptively convincing,” said NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Natasha Mann. “They’re far better actors than they are tradies.”
According to the consumer watchdog, one scam victim recently lost $5,200 after following up a pamphlet advertisement offering to clean, seal and paint their roof. When it rained two weeks later, it became apparent that the roof was in even worse condition than before, with major leaks all over the house. By this time, however, the “tradie” had vanished and could not be contacted.
“These scammers are active in NSW right now,” stressed Ms Mann. “They don’t discriminate and will travel from our biggest cities to our smallest communities to find victims.”
Warning signs that a tradesperson is illegitimate include: knocking on your door with a special deal, asking for money upfront, putting pressure, and offering to drive you to the bank for money.
Quotes and invoices are not necessarily proof of legitimacy, as these can be fabricated using fake or stolen details.
“It can be difficult to tell if they’re legitimate but if the deal seems too good to be true it probably is,” said Ms Mann.
“Turn these conmen away, check their licence and business name and report anything suspicious to NSW Fair Trading.”
She also advised home owners to ask for a tradesperson’s licence and check their ABN before signing a contract or putting down any money.
Less than two weeks ago, South Australians were also asked to be on the alert after the so-called “bitumen bandits” were spotted in Fleurieu. The road repair conmen are reportedly part of an “international organised scam” with directors based in the UK or Ireland.
Earlier, investor David Shih lost $4,000 after a builder ran off with his deposit, despite appearing highly legitimate and providing examples of past work. Mr Shih searched for a year, but was unable to relocate the con artist or retrieve his money.
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