The Victorian Government is urging residents to be wary of travelling con men with the launch of a new campaign to help people spot the signs of danger.
Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz has unveiled the new campaign, which warns Victorians to watch out for people who knock on their door or approach them unexpectedly, offering to paint their house, fix the roof, resurface the driveway or work in the garden.
Travelling con men often offer cheap deals and pressure people to pay cash upfront before disappearing and leaving behind unfinished or poor quality work.
‘‘Always be careful about accepting unsolicited offers for maintenance work on your property and don’t be afraid to ask someone to leave if it doesn’t feel right,’’ Ms Kairouz said.
The new campaign, developed by Consumer Affairs Victoria and Crime Stoppers Victoria, will run for 15 weeks across television, radio, print, social media and in cinemas.
It tells the story of 79-year-old Thelma who was taken advantage of by a travelling con man earlier this year.
Thelma, a volunteer at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, received a home repairs pamphlet in her Wheelers Hill mailbox.
While initially sceptical, she called the number and the con men were on her doorstep within 15 minutes promising to fix her roof.
The con men started work on her roof and then demanded cash — even though the job was not complete.
Despite her concerns, Thelma paid them $4500 after one of the con men told her a sob story about his wife and child.
Sadly, Thelma is one of hundreds of Victorians ripped off by travelling con men each year.
‘‘I applaud Thelma for sharing her story and shining a light on travelling con men and their terrible tactics,’’ Ms Kairouz said.
Consumer Affairs Victoria received 207 complaints about travelling con men in 2016-17, with more than $477000 lost.
If you suspect a travelling con man is at your door, ask them to leave. If they refuse, they are breaking the law.
Victorians are being urged to call the national travelling con men hotline on 1300133408 if they hear about or suspect a con man is in their area — and to remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.