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Students beware: Travelling con men offering dodgy deals for odd jobs

TRAVELLING con men are targeting the homes of those who have English as a second language, and international students are being asked to be on the alert in a joint campaign by Crime Stoppers and Consumer Affairs Victoria. Gabriella Ariffin reports. 

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International students are being warned against travelling con men targeting the homes of those who have English as a second language.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) and Crime Stoppers Victoria have launched a campaign to raise awareness for these issues among multilingual communities.

In particular, students should beware unsolicited offers to carry out maintenance jobs such as painting, repairs, driveway resurfacing and other odd jobs.

CAV and Crime Stoppers say the con men typically pressure people to accept cheap ‘today only’ deals, while others drop professional-looking flyers into letterboxes.

They almost always ask for cash before starting work and often disappear after payment has been made. Even if they do any work, it is often unfinished or of a poor standard.

As the con men move around quickly and provide only a first name and mobile number, contacting them afterwards can be difficult.

Crime Stoppers Victoria chief executive, Samantha Hunter, said the con men tend to be more active in the warmer months and after natural disasters such as fires.

“If you do suspect a con man to be at your door, just say no to them and ask them to leave. Always use a qualified tradesman and check details before anyone is hired,” she said.

Ways to avoid travelling con men include asking for their full name and business phone number to confirm whether they really work for the company, refraining from signing an agreement until you are ready, and using well-known tradespeople who give written quotes.

For more information and tips on how to best protect yourself from con men, visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. CAV also provides information in 23 languages for students who are not confident in English. 

You can also receive regular updates about travelling con men by following CAV on Twitter and Facebook. To report any details on travelling con men, contact the national travelling con men hotline on 1300 133 408 between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays).

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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