A man inspecting roofing works on top of a house

Four men charged in relation to roofing scam which collected more than $640,000 from Melbourne residents

Victoria Police have arrested and charged four people who are accused of scamming Melbourne residents, as they allegedly attempted to escape the country undetected after the fact.

Police allege the group scammed more than 20 Melbourne residents by posing as workers from a legitimate roofing company, collecting more than $640,000 after telling home owners their roofs needed urgent repairs.

A 21-year-old Irish national allegedly involved in the scam was detained at Tullamarine Airport on July 28 after allegedly trying to board a flight to Ireland with his brother’s passport.

Police say the accused man charged an 81-year-old Kew resident $99,000 for repair works on his roof between May and June 2022 and ultimately left it in worse condition, with the owner “forced to use pots and pans inside the house” to combat leaks.

Pair attempts to leave country days after first arrest

Police later arrested three males on July 31 in connection to a further $540,000 worth of alleged roofing scams this year.

Two of the men were also caught by Australian Border Force (ABF) officials attempting to board a flight out of the country at Tullamarine Airport, while a 20-year-old female traveling with the pair was released after questioning.

ABF Superintendent Nicholas Walker said the two British nationals and the Irish national had tried to make their escape when they were arrested.

“These were deliberate attempts to slip out of the country undetected and the decisive action of the ABF officers who stopped them should serve as a warning to anyone else looking to do the same,” Superintendent Walker said.

“The ABF targets traveling with men who seek to exploit vulnerable people. We are working with state police to identify and disrupt the criminal activities of traveling with men through Operation Suddenblaze.”

A 35-year-old male was also arrested in Oakleigh later that day and subsequently charged with deception offenses and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Police say homes were often left in states of disrepair or with unfinished work.(ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)

Subsequent independent inspections of residents affected by the scam identified that works quoted for were never required, incomplete or were of poor workmanship, with amounts quoted deemed excessive.

It follows the jailing of a separate trio of men who targeted elderly Victorians with an elaborate roofing scam in 2020.

Senior Constable Lachlan Balazs from the Boroondara Crime Investigation Unit said crimes such as the roofing scam often affected vulnerable Victorians the most.

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