AN international based scam by the notorious ‘bitumen bandits’ which early this year claimed a Darlington business, and a Herne Hill resident three months ago, has resulted in 31 complaints throughout the state totalling payments of more than $264,000.
Consumer Protection Commissioner Trish Blake said a series of construction companies travelling around WA were scamming home and business owners with dodgy bitumen work.
The story was first reported in the Echo News April 28, ‘Darlington business stung by bitumen bandits.’
“These conmen charge exorbitant prices of up to nearly $50,000, and threaten to destroy completed work if invoices aren’t paid. These ‘bitumen bandits’ are the definition of dodgy and a complete scam,” Ms Blake said.
Victim Katie (surname withheld) was targeted at her private property in Herne Hill three months ago.
The conmen said they were doing a job for Main Roads down the road but, due to the rain, needed to get rid of the bitumen quickly and offered to work on her 200m driveway at cost price.
They did not provide a quote and started the job the same day while she was not home.
When she refused to pay an invoice of $7800 she was threatened and abused over the phone but stood her ground, stating her rights and refused to pay. The poor-quality bitumen work remains in place.
Commissioner Blake warned residents and businesses to avoid these scam con artists who leave you with dodgy work and not to deal with at least eight road construction companies currently travelling around the state that offer to re-surface bitumen driveways and car parks for seemingly attractive prices, only to leave terrible bitumen work behind, in worse shape than before.
She said the travelling conmen use sub-standard materials, demand a higher fee than originally quoted and threaten to destroy the work completed if their invoices are not paid, and described the operation as an international organised scam with directors often based in the UK or Ireland.
“It is the definition of dodgy and a complete scam – it has to stop,” Ms Blake said.
“These con artists posing as tradespeople have a blatant disregard for the law and use completely unethical business practices that prey on innocent people, tricking them into a ‘good deal’ but ultimately charge highly-inflated prices for shoddy work.
“They lie to potential customers, saying they have left-over bitumen from a job nearby so can offer a cheap price, but the finished job is left uneven, thin and soft.
“In one case in Derby, the bitumen washed away with rain the next day but the customer was still invoiced $33,000 and demands were made for immediate payment.”
The bitumen bandits breach numerous consumer laws including providing false representation as to the price of services and falsely claim to be affiliated with Main Roads and other reputable businesses.
Consumer Protection has now received 31 complaints since the start of the year about travelling conmen.
The eight bitumen companies – conveniently registered in WA or over east – and the directors that Consumer Protection warns consumers and businesses to avoid, are:
Bitumen Road Services (director Andrew Watson); Road Tech Oz (director Jack Reagan Maskell); Road Tech Construction Oz (director Anthony Kenneth Lee); Regional Civils (director Jay Brough); Top Coat Civils (director Gabriel Thomas O’Malley Mackerness); Rolo Bitumen (director Lee Desmond Rowland); Civil Highways (director Jonathan Michael Hovvels) and Ground Fix Landscapes (director James Lee).
Regular workers from the above companies include Anthony Kenneth Lee, Simon Ross, Tom Ross, Thomas Dean Whaley and Matthew Nunn.