Residents warned as scammers prowl Gladstone region
LOCALS are being warned of a group of con artists working the Gladstone area.
The Observer has received reports of the 'bitumen bandits' appearing in Mt Larcom, Calliope, Benaraby and Biloela.
The Office of Fair Trading issued warnings last week that two groups - the bandits and a white van speaker scam - could be west and south of Mt Larcom, after receiving information that the two groups had moved from areas further south.
Office of Fair Trading Rockhampton acting manager Rod Page said the bitumen bandits had been offering sub-standard bitumen laying services.
"The road base should be more than 80mm thick, rather than 20mm like they've been doing," he said.
Mr Page said that the crews, which investigations show tend to have UK accents with the majority learning towards a more English intonation, have been targeting bigger rural properties.
"The bitumen bandits don't do a lot of work in big towns because the jobs aren't there," he said.
"Where the money is, is in the semi-rural areas."
The ABS Personal Fraud Survey for 2010 to 2011 found that the Queensland scam exposure rate (for people aged 15 and over) was 36.8%.
Resident Shazz Morris, commenting on The Observer's Facebook page, said she had had people come up to her recently near Bunnings in Gladstone selling surround sound systems.
Mr Page said often these white van speaker crews would show well-known brands and later the buyer would find the product was defective.
"What we really want is (the scammer's) current vehicle registration numbers."
Mr Page said although the office could put an inspector on the scene the same day as the offence was reported, the crews had often already left the area.
He said that a lot of the crews have loose connections between them and that they traditionally travel north in the winter.
"Ten years ago we probably had more instances of people being scammed," he said.
"As a general rule these days we're getting people that are more informed but there is still an unacceptable amount of instances."
Mr Page said one thing he wanted the public to realise was that there is now an Australian-wide law that it was illegal for door-to-door traders to take any upfront payments or deposits for services valued at more than $100.
"They're going to try to hook you in saying they've got a really good deal," Mr Page said.
He said the compulsory 10-business day cooling-off period people gave people the chance to shop around in terms of price and quality.
Residents should be wary of traders with no business address or those that can only cite a post office box, suite number, email address or mobile phone as their contact details.
- Never send money, or give credit card details.
- Remember you have 10 days cooling-off period to shop around for bargains
- Ask for ID if they come to your door.You do not have to let them in and they MUST leave if you ask them to.