"Bitumen bandits" back on the prowl in Ipswich

SHONKY rip-off merchants known as "the bitumen bandits" are back on the prowl in Ipswich with residents warned to be alert to their scams.

The bandits approach homes and businesses offering to lay bitumen for driveways or other areas for cash payment. They then do a shonky job and rip their customers off for thousands of dollars.

A respected Ipswich businessman has alerted Cr Paul Tully to the fact that the bandits are back in Ipswich.

"He got ripped off by them some years ago," Cr Tully said.

"These bitumen bandits arrive in Australia from the UK on tourist visas and are working illegally under the Migration Act.

"They come to you and say, 'We have got a project up the road with bitumen left over at a cheap price and you will need to pay us now'.

"They'll drive you to the bank if necessary to get the cash, the old con trick....and then they'll do a very poor quality job. Current Affair exposed them around August of last year."

It is illegal for door-to-door traders to take any upfront payments or deposits for services valued at more than $100.

But the bandits use psychological pressure on potential customers. In the case of the Ipswich businessman who spoke to the QT, he said the bandit was told to leave, but initially wouldn't.

"They got us quite a few years ago. They laid bitumen and it was rubbish. They scammed us," he said.

"We've just had another guy with an English accent come in trying to scam us again. We had to eject this guy. He was very persistent. He said, 'We are going to put this stuff down, and this is how much you have to pay'.

"I said, 'I don't want it. See you later'. The vehicle he had didn't look legitimate. This dude was bad and I don't want him coming back and putting a knife in my back. They are dangerous, and people need to know they are out there and to be aware."

Cr Tully said one local businessman was charged thousands of dollars for a job worth hundreds when "a thin layer of bitumen was laid and then covered with a couple of inches of white sand".

"They told him it was a bonding agent and not to take it off for two days, but the minute he took it off there was grass growing through it," he said.

"They typically go to people with acreage who have long driveways up to the house or to small businesses with car parking areas.

"Sometimes they finish a very poor quality job or they take off half way through the job.

"They have been in the Ipswich area before, but they are back."

Cr Tully said if you are approached by the bandits call Police Link on 131444 or the Office of Fair Trading.



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