THREE travelling con men with a track record of deception are understood to be targeting elderly and vulnerable Orange residents, offering to undertake household jobs despite not being qualified or licensed to do so.
The NSW government department of Fair Trading said the three young men, with a mix of Irish and English accents, work individually or as a group, offering services from tree lopping to re-surfacing driveways.
NSW Fair Trading investigations director David Byrne says Matthew Devine, who also uses the names Jason Robert Whyte and Matthew Broom, has been seen in Orange and is thought to be travelling with associates Christopher Mark Conner and Lauren Kes Gavin.
NSW Fair Trading warns Mr Conner also uses the names George Fayle, Steven Luke Marchetti and Michael-John Chand while Mr Gavin has also been known as John Edward Carrod.
Mr Byrne warned people to be cautious if approached by the men and to contact police or Fair Trading immediately.
“They tout for business by randomly door-knocking,” he said.
“Because the elderly are at home in the day during business hours they’re more vulnerable, because they don’t always have their support networks with them at the time.
“Sometime the elderly are happy to part with their money if they think they’re getting a good job done.”
Mr Byrne said one of the trio’s past victims had become “besotted” by one of the men, falling for his Irish accent.
“She told us he seemed like a good style of man with a lovely accent,” Mr Byrne said.
Mr Byrne says the men tend to make suggestions about jobs that need to be done in the hope their victims will okay the work on the spot.
“The issue is, a lot of the time the work doesn’t need to be done in the first place,” he said.
“In other cases payments are made and then the work is not done.”
Mr Byrne warned people to “steer clear” of anyone operating without a license number and reminded potential clients to check workers’ qualifications before employing them.
He also reminded the elderly to consult with a carer or family member before engaging workers.
“We’ve had cases in Sydney where con men have exploited people with dementia, taking $100,000 or $200,000,” he said.
Mr Byrne said there were a lot of other con men operating in a similar fashion, with many advertising their services on flyers stuck to telephone posts.
He didn’t rule out the “abhorrent” trio from using posters or letter box flyers to con central west residents.
Mr Byrne said if the men were detected working in the same manner, Fair Trading would work with the federal government to ensure their immigration visas were revoked.
Aliases gave these crooks away
THREE men who “specialise in ripping off the vulnerable” and lied when applying for a home building licence were taken to court in the hope it would deter others from doing the wrong thing by innocent consumers.
NSW Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe said his department had a travelling con men (TCM) strategy that continued to pay dividends with better detection and prosecution rates.
Mr Stowe says the three men, who are believed to be working in Orange at the moment, are Christopher Mark Conner, Matthew Devine and Lauren Kes Gavin.
He said they were travelling con men consumers should avoid.
Mr Stowe said NSW Fair Trading had taken the men to court when it identified aliases the three withheld when making applications.
“All three men declared that they had never been known by another name or alias. The men have since all pleaded guilty to the charge of violating s307A of the Crimes Act 1900 for knowingly making a false and/or misleading statement to Fair Trading, in connection with an application for an individual contractor licence, by omitting to disclose that they were known by other names or aliases,” he said.
Mr Stowe said “crooked travellers and the travelling community of con men and gangs from Ireland and the UK” had been on Fair Trading’s radar since 2011.
“Domestic offenders are equally on the radar,” he said.
Mr Stowe warned consumers with concerns to call the travelling con men hotline on 1300 133 408.