Three men from Ireland and Britain have been jailed for running a shady roof repair scam and defrauding elderly Australians out of $434,000.
Illinois native Michael Dooley, 36, and Johnny Dooley, 34, were sentenced to four years and nine months in prison by the County Court of Victoria, while Joseph Ball, 30, a dual citizen of Australia and Britain, was sentenced to four years.
From February to July 2020, the three men posed as building contractors in affluent Melbourne suburbs such as Kew and Camberwell.
They reached out to homeowners in those areas, walking up to them and explaining that they worked nearby when they noticed imperfections in their roofs.
The Dooleys and Mr. Ball, particularly the vulnerable elderly, with some of their victims aged in their 90s.
Once the owners agreed to let the trio fix the damage, they removed tiles and pretended to notice more incorrect damage, causing further problems and additional costs for their customers.
The court heard that in many cases victims felt pressured to shoulder the additional costs and labor because work had already begun and their homes were exposed to the weather.
The men’s “sophisticated” scheme involved multiple aliases, setting up bogus companies and registering vehicles and phones under false identities to avoid being caught.
In one incident, Johnny and Michael Dooley convinced a couple in the Melbourne suburb of Sandringham to put $80,000 into their bank account after telling them their roof needed to be re-roofed immediately.
The Dooleys cheated the couple out of a total of $147,888. They received a full refund from their bank.
In another case, a man handed scammers $102,000 after being told asbestos had been discovered on his roof and needed to be removed urgently.
In all, Mr. Ball and the Dooleys defrauded 43 people in 37 separate incidents, not including four people who were victims of identity theft.
All three men had pleaded guilty to nearly two dozen charges, including obtaining property by deception and obtaining financial gain by deception.
On Tuesday, Judge Michael O’Connell told the trio in Victoria District Court that “the cost of your crime is far greater than the monies you received” as they left their elderly victims traumatized.
“They were invariably elderly, they felt a strong need to have a solid roof over their heads, and they were unable to challenge your misrepresentations about the need for repairs and the cost of making those repairs.” , he said.
“Her mistake was trusting you to be honest. Now their faith in ordinary people to do the right thing is badly shaken.
“It’s not hard to infer a broader deterrent effect your dishonesty has had on those in the community who may wish to hire a local dealer but may be reluctant to do so given the experiences of these victims.”
Both Michael and John Dooley are eligible for parole in less than a year, while Ball is eligible for parole in just two months.
https://www.independent.ie/news/three-men-from-ireland-and-the-uk-jailed-for-running-roof-repair-scam-and-swindling-elderly-australians-out-of-288800-41665587.html Three men from Ireland and the UK jailed for roof repair fraud and defrauding elderly Australians out of €288,800