The State’s consumer watchdog has been carrying out intensive targeted operations against travelling conmen who are trying to rip off South Australians.
Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Paul White says that each year, particularly in summer, Consumer and Business Services (CBS) receives reports of itinerant traders, offering services, but failing to deliver.
“One of the most common scams involve a tradie coming by unannounced, saying they have excess materials from another job, and offering to do work on your property at a discount rate,” Commissioner White said.
“This can be bitumen laying or painting - but back of truck deals on electrical goods are also common scams of travelling conmen.
“We have already had such reports this year, and my team of investigators has worked quickly to investigate, disrupt, and prevent these conmen from ripping people off.
“My team of investigators has recently worked with interstate authorities, police, immigration officials, and conducted covert operations to track down a group of conmen who were offering to lay cheap bitumen - their mode of operating was to make unsolicited contact with people, tell they had some bitumen left over from a recent job and offered to undertake bitumen paving for cash.
“Our officers identified where the conmen were living and carried out a raid, with the support of South Australia Police. The suspects were interviewed along with potential witnesses documents were seized. All information is now being assessed for prosecution action.
“While our investigations are continuing, we have forced this particular group of suspects out of business, and they appear to have packed up and left the State. I believe that we have effectively disrupted this group of conmen and stopped them from causing a whole lot of consumer detriment.
“While this prevents South Australian falling prey to these conmen, the nature of these unscrupulous individuals is to move across State and Territory borders, trying to remain undetected by authorities.
“That’s why we also share information and intelligence with our interstate counterparts to help ensure they can’t just set up camp in another jurisdiction.
“Itinerant bitumen layers do not provide documentation and always seek payment in cash, so that they can remain undetected and unaccountable for their dodgy work.
“Consumers are entitled to a 10 day cooling off period under the door-to-door provisions of Australian Consumer Law.
“Under the law, traders can not start work for these 10 days nor can they accept any form of payment.
“Consumers are advised to not hand over any money, and if a trader demands payment it is likely that they are a scammer.
“Consumers are also entitled to a cooling off period in which the trader can not provide any good or services or accept any payment for transactions over $100.
South Australians who have any information are encouraged contact CBS on 131 882.