19 Jan 2019

Police warn homeowners of fake tradies scam

6:00 pm on 19 January 2019

Police are warning people not to give money to a group of men claiming to be building contractors in Waikato and Auckland.

Stock photo.

Police advise people not to hand over money upfront when they are pressured by contractors. Photo: 123rf.com

Waikato police are investigating five reported incidents of men offering homeowners discounted home maintenance services.

Police said the men insist on money up-front for cut-price maintenance work and then take off as soon as the money is handed over.

The latest incident occurred in Hamilton East on Thursday night.

Police said they had received reports of similar incidents in Auckland and it was believed to be the same group.

An Auckland woman scammed out of $1700 by fake building contractors, said that the men had also scammed her neighbours.

Tania Matthews from Henderson, said the men, who were short and stocky with red and sandy hair, appeared to be genuine when they approached her on 7 January.

"They had a ute. They had all the gears. They sounded as though they knew what they were talking about," Mrs Matthews said.

"After about four hours they said they were finished. The small part that I could see looked okay so I paid them. My husband came home and went up on the roof and it was an utter mess."

Mrs Matthews says she had paid the men $1700 and the men said they would return to finish the job.

However, when they tried to contact the pair through the email address and phone number on the business card they had left, nobody answered. Instead, her husband has spent several days just trying to fix the mess.

"That's why I've come and told my story, so people can keep an eye out for these two cowboys," she said.

Mrs Matthews said that the men also scammed an elderly neighbour out of $1000 and another neighbour out of $750.

"He had paid them $1000 and the reason why I saw them again, was they had actually gone round to get more money off him, which he did not pay," she said.

Police won't release the identities of the men, as their investigation is ongoing.

Detective Sergeant Philip Elvy said homeowners may feel pressured or be convinced to hand over the money up-front.

"If you are approached in such a situation - do not engage and do not hand over any money," he said.

People are advised to call the police immediately if they are approached.