Shady tradies use social media to steal thousands from unsuspecting Aussies

Fake online profiles posing as tradies are swindling Aussie homeowners out of thousands of dollars in a wave of incidents across Queensland.

Jarrod
By Jarrod
4 Min Read

Fake online profiles posing as tradies are swindling Aussie homeowners out of thousands of dollars in a wave of incidents across Queensland.

In 2023, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) caught 14 tradies who took money from unsuspecting homeowners and ran, failing to fulfil the promised work. 

In each case, these dodgy operators were found through online marketplaces, service-seeking applications or social media – often using fake names and qualifications. 

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the growing number of reports were “incredibly concerning”. 

“It’s easy for dodgy operators to set up online profiles and hide behind the anonymity of social media, so be extra cautious when engaging a tradie to do some work,” she said.

In the last two years, the OFT received more than 720 complaints about tradespeople, most of which related to delays, failure to complete jobs, or shonky renos, plumbing, concreting and fencing works.

Minister D’Ath urged Queenslanders to do their homework before hiring tradies, especially when advertising online.

“If you are asked to pay a large deposit, or the total amount for the job upfront, this should be a red flag,” she said. 

“Ask friends and family for the names of traders they’ve used that they’d recommend. Ask traders for details of their previous customers and go and see their work.

“We will continue to crackdown on dodgy traders who are taking money from consumers and failing to supply.”

This warning comes only days after Brisbane bricklayer Paul Lawrence Coplick became the state’s first dodgy tradie to face a jail sentence following his third conviction for ‘unlawful building work’.

Along with working without a valid license and charging excessive upfront deposits for projects, Coplick also swindled one homeowner out of $3,350 for a job he would fail to begin. 

QBCC Commissioner Anissa Levy encouraged property owners to get more than one project quote and to only work with known licensed contractors, no matter the size of the job

“Homeowners who choose licensed contractors have peace of mind knowing that they meet these important criteria – they are qualified and experienced and provide the QBCC with evidence of their financial stability each year,” she said. 

“In addition to these safeguards, QBCC licensees also know they are required to use contracts and take out insurance on work worth more than $3,300, which protects owners against incomplete or defective work through the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme – Australia’s most accessible home warranty scheme.”

Tips to know when hiring a tradesperson

  • Do your homework by checking reviews and a general internet search of the business name.
  • Check they are licensed with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).
  • Ask to see certificates for public liability insurance.
  • Make sure you get a written quote or contract with business contact details.
  • Arrange an on-site inspection so both parties can meet and discuss the details of the job.
  • Don’t pay more than the maximum deposit of 20 per cent—for work priced at $3,300 or less.
  • Always get a receipt for the work, whichever way you paid for it.
  • It’s also a good option to pay by card as this may provide extra protection by offering a chargeback if the goods or services aren’t delivered.
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Jarrod
By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.

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