Four men charged over roofing scam that raised more than $640,000 from Melbourne residents
Victoria Police have arrested and charged four people accused of defrauding Melbourne residents after they allegedly tried to flee the country undetected after the fact.
- Four men have been arrested and charged over a roofing scam
- Police allege the scam netted over $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, raising more than $640,000 after telling homeowners their roofs needed urgent repairs.
A 21-year-old Irish national who was allegedly involved in the scam was arrested at Tullamarine Airport on July 28 after he allegedly tried to board a flight to Ireland using his brother’s passport.
Police say the defendant charged an 81-year-old Kew resident $99,000 for repairs to his roof between May and June 2022 and ultimately left him in worse condition, with the landlord ‘forced to use pots and pans inside the house” to fight leaks.
A pair tries to leave the country days after their first arrest
Police later arrested three men on July 31 in connection with an additional $540,000 in suspected roofing scams this year.
Two of the men were also arrested by Australian Border Force (ABF) officials as they attempted to board an out-of-country flight at Tullamarine airport, while a 20-year-old woman traveling with the couple was released after questioning.
ABF Superintendent Nicholas Walker said the two British nationals and the Irish national tried to escape when they were arrested.
“These were deliberate attempts to escape the country undetected and the decisive action by the ABF officers who arrested them should serve as a warning to anyone seeking to do the same,” the superintendent said. Walker.
“ABF targets traveling crooks who seek to exploit the vulnerable. We are working with state police to identify and disrupt the criminal activities of traveling crooks through Operation Suddenblaze.”
A 35-year-old man was also arrested in Oakleigh later that day and later charged with the offenses of deception and receiving stolen goods.
Subsequent independent inspections of the residents affected by the scam revealed that the works cited were never necessary, incomplete or of poor quality, with the amounts quoted deemed to be excessive.
It follows the imprisonment of a separate trio of men who targeted elderly Victorians with an elaborate roofing scam in 2020.
Senior Constable Lachlan Balazs of the Boroondara Crime Investigation Unit said crimes such as the roof scam often hit vulnerable Victorians the most.
“Unfortunately, it is often some of the most vulnerable or older members of our society who are most affected. For many, the emotional distress and loss of trust in others is just as damaging as the financial fallout,” said said Senior Constable Balazs.
Police say a Toorak resident who found the group through an internet advertisement was told by the scammers she needed more than $31,900 in roof repairs, which she paid for.
An independent roof inspector later reported that the only work done appears to be replacing a downspout, which was valued at $350 worth of work.
Senior Constable Balazs said it was likely there were even more victims affected by the scams who had not come forward.
“It is possible that other members of the community have been affected by similar activity and we urge anyone who suspects they have been victims of illegitimate construction work of this nature to come forward.”