A group of Irish people accused of scamming restaurants are fleecing Queensland residents out of thousands of dollars with bogus agreements to fix roofs and driveways, police allege.
Police are working with the Australian Border Force regarding complaints surrounding nine Irish people across Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
It comes after 12 complaints concerning a group of males and a group of females with Irish accents were made to police.
Police said the men appeared to be targeting elderly homeowners by taking payments for house repairs but never finishing the work, while the women are accused of targeting shops and restaurants.
On one occasion five males allegedly fleeced more than $25,000 from an elderly man over an unfulfilled promise to fix his roof. It's also been alleged that a driveway repair in Oxenford was arranged with an Irish person but the services were not carried out.
Allegations involving the women include two women distracting a staff member at a city store where a child then stole shoes, shoplifting on the Gold Coast and refusing to pay restaurant bills after hair or glass was claimed to have been found in meals.
There was also an alleged assault in Fortitude Valley.
Detective Superintendent Tony Flemming said there were some suspicions around whether the groups were connected, which police were investigating.
"It appears these matters have some connection," he said.
"What we've done is brought it all together under one command.
"We've got a team of people at the moment actively looking for these people."
Det Supt Flemming said police were eager to hear the groups' side of the stories.
"We've also engaged our colleagues at the Australian Border Force ... It's hard enough for small businesses to make a dollar. This has the potential to have a significant impact on the community."
The images (below) of a number of men and women who may be able to assist police with their investigations were released on Saturday.
Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming, Brisbane Region said the groups are targeting small businesses and the elderly.
"They are good at creating diversions and distractions / disruptions to either steal goods or demand goods and services for free. They are aggressive and usually work in groups of two or more."
Detective Superintendent Fleming encouraged the people depicted to contact police to help resolve the allegations. Anyone who recognises these people or where they may be are asked to contact police.
Hints for homeowners to help avoid a scam or shoddy handymen:
• say no – at first;
• seek more information – from independent sources such as family, friends, neighbours, newspaper advertisements or past clients;
• reputable businesses will be happy to provide you with full contacts details so that you can follow-up on their services;
• obtain a written quote;
• seek an agreement with the person offering the service that all moneys will be paid at the satisfactory completion of the job and not up front;
• regulatory authorities who are responsible for license and regulation of various trades such as plumbing, building and electrical etc, should be contacted to ascertain if the handyman is currently licensed; and
• if the offer turns out to be safe and good for you, you can always say yes later.
"I again urge homeowners to say no to anyone offering door to door home repairs until you are able to make an informed decision and know that this is a legitimate offer," Detective Superintendent Fleming said.