Ballarat residents are being warned to be on alert, as reports of tradespeople door knocking and offering services at a cheap price across the region have come to light.
Trading as a newly formed company which The Courier has decided not to name, it is understood tradesmen have been knocking on doors around Ballarat saying they have leftover bitumen from other projects and can complete works for a cheaper rate to use up remaining product.
A Melbourne-based company trading under a similar name has received a number of calls from confused residents from around western Victoria in recent days, including Ballarat, Ararat and Colac, complaining about the new company.
Amanda Conder, who lives on Ballarat-Carngham Rd, said she was at home alone on Monday afternoon when a number of tradesmen appeared on her property wearing high visibility vests.
Telling her they had been completing roadworks nearby, they offered to concrete her driveway at a discounted rate in order to use the leftover bitumen.
Offering to complete the works at $25 a square metre, which would equal about $3500 all together, she said she would need to speak with her husband first.
She said the men were intimidating saying they needed an answer within 30 minutes and eventually, she agreed to the deal.
Shortly afterwards the men returned with full, unmarked trucks, which she said she had begun to suspect had not been used at all.
"I was watching them do it and realised it wasn't bitumen after all, but more like gravel mixed with water," she said.
Becoming increasingly suspicious at the lack of logos on the men's clothing or on the trucks as they started to work, she asked for more information about their business, which she claims the men refused to do.
She said the men became anxious at her onslaught of questions, packed up and left.
While she received an invoice for the works, she has not yet paid and has approached both Victoria Police and Consumer Affairs to ask for advice. Her husband has since received a barrage of phone calls.
While Consumer Affairs said it cannot comment on individual cases, a spokesperson said key indications of 'fake tradies' or 'travelling con men' were seemingly dodgy tradesmen who knock on doors of homes and small businesses, offering to complete maintenance work.
Usually these people ask for cash upfront or soon after completing work and frequently disappear once they have been paid. If they do complete work, it is regularly unfinished or of a poor standard using cheap materials.
"They offer to do jobs such as driveway resurfacing, painting or roof repairs at a cheap rate. Often, they pressure people, offering 'today only' specials.
"Remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is," the spokesperson said.
"If you believe a fake tradie is at your door, ask them to leave. If they refuse, they are breaking the law-contact your local Victoria Police station."
If you believe you have fallen victim to a fake tradie, call the national hotline on 1300 133 408 to report the incident. Further information about how to identify a fake tradie and how to prevent being duped by one, visit the Consumer Affairs website.