A man in Middle Park has issued a stern warning to home renovators to be cautious of fake tradies after three men showed up at his home posing as professional roofers, and demanded $8,000 for a job they failed to complete.
The family of Chetan Chheda is now residing in a home that is partially roofed after the three fake tradies removed part of the roof, and demanded money to have it fixed.
“I want to alert the public so no one gets caught in that same trap,” Mr Chheda, an employee at a telecommunication firm told Storm Assist.
Mr Chheda explained that the men—one called John and another Peter, approached his family on February 8 while cleaning up the garden at their Harold Street home.
The men claimed to be experienced roofers from New Look Home Restorations Company which supposedly specialised in offering roofing services, claims they supported with a flier that carried an ABN.
“They spoke so eloquently and so I easily believed what they told me,” Mr Chheda recalled.
Be Aware of Fake Tradies: Too Good to be True? It is
The men went ahead to inspect Mr Chheda’s roof, claiming it had started rotting underneath and urgently required replacement. They agreed to fix the roof and skylight for a total of $11,000.
Mr Chheda says he was duped into signing a contract after which the men started asking him for money to get the required materials for the job.
He alleges that the fake roofers also removed part of the roof covering a front bedroom and roofed it with some roofing iron and plastic sheets. As if that wasn’t enough, the men started demanding for more money and threatened to walk away if he failed to pay more.
Mr Chheda claims he had to hand over $8,000 for these conmen to complete just a few hours job for the period between February 8 and 18.
He added that after receiving various calls and excuses from the three tradies—including failure to find the right colour for the roofing materials, they varnished without completing the task.
“I have two properties, and I’ve dealt with tradies, but never with this kind,” Mr Chheda noted.
Mr Chheda has since reported the incident to Victoria Police, the Consumer Affairs and tried to take the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal but was unsuccessful owing to the fact that he did not have the street address for New Look Home Restorations business.
He is now looking for quotes to have his roof—which is still in plastic sheets—repaired
Calls made by Storm Assist to the company’s phone number on the informational pamphlet only prompted receipt of the message “subscriber voice mailbox is full”. There was no response either to emails requesting for their comment on the matter.
A quick search of the ABN provided by the company showed registration by a John Smith using a Mill Park postcode created on January 14 of this year.
According to the Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), fake tradies often approach people in their gardens and offered them their services—in most cases during warmer months. They usually target vulnerable people such as the elderly or those who don’t speak English as their first language.
“These are somehow more trusting, and could have money at home”, said the spokesperson.
The 2016/2017 financial year saw fake tradies, also popularly referred to as travelling conmen—scam innocent home renovators a whopping $477,000.
According to their records, CAV received a total of 207 reports of similar fake tradies during the same period—and 137 of these cases were for conmen purporting to offer roofing services.
Melbourne areas mostly targeted by the fake tradies included the Whitehorse, Monash and Boroondara.
How to Avoid being Scammed
CAV has sponsored campaigns informing people to be wary of the increasing fakes—adding that if a price looks too good to be true, then it usually is.
They advised people to seek quotes from reliable businesses, take time to carry out due diligence on tradies who show up to offer solutions and avoid going for “today only” offers.
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