One of the scammers' trucks spotted on the Darling Downs (Photo: QPS)

November 30, 2015

There’s another common scam doing the rounds, but it has nothing to do with the Internet.

This con involves people going door-to-door offering to sell bitumen/tar products.

Recently, Darling Downs police intercepted a group of people selling bitumen work door-to-door.

Four people in four vehicles were “cold calling”, attempting to sell bitumen services for driveways and carparks at a reduced price.

They said they were ready to complete the work in return for immediate payment.

The group was claiming to be working on a nearby job but had overestimated the product required and were attempting to recoup some of their money by offering work at a discounted price.

This was a lie. The people had no ties to the area and were not legitimately working on a nearby project.

Police were able to confirm that the people were from overseas and were in Australia on working visas.

They possessed very little or no experience in bitumen work and were living in either backpacker or caravan park accommodation.

These itinerant workers had recently arrived in the country but had already set up registered businesses and bank accounts. They had business cards and even possessed a portable credit/debit card machine for direct debit into their accounts.

The vehicles being used by the itinerant workers have been spotted all over south-east Queensland and interstate and have been made to look like legitimate roadwork vehicles with the inclusion of fluorescent stripes along the side.

One if the vehicles was carrying magnetic decals containing letters and numbers, as seen on mining vehicles, along with rotating orange lights.

Information from the Office of Fair Trading is that Itinerant Traders are illegal door-to-door traders.

Itinerant Traders have no fixed address but instead move around so they can target new towns and suburbs.

Itinerant Traders aim many of their operations at older people, who may have trouble maintaining their homes.

Never do business with anyone you suspect may be an Itinerant Trader.

Police say they will try to convince you to hire their services on the spot and then

  • Never do any work; or
  • Do shoddy work with no prospect of refund or repair.

Common types of itinerant trading includes:

  • Bitumen laying
  • Roof painting
  • General home maintenance
  • Selling stereos or other electronics from the back of a van.

They may try to convince you by:

  • Telling you a hard-luck story
  • Claiming to offer a good deal because they are “in the area”
  • Claiming they have products “left over from another job”

How to recognise an Itinerant Trader

Itinerant traders:

  • Usually call by uninvited
  • Prefer cash payments
  • Do not supply proper receipts or written contracts
  • Can’t show you their identification or QBCC licence (Queensland Builders or Contracts Licence)

Genuine Door-to-Door traders must:

  • Give you a cooling off period of 10 business days to change your mind
  • Not take any money during the cooling off period
  • Not begin any service during this time.

You can report suspected travelling conmen to a national hotline on 1300-133-408.

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