Police are warning residents to be vigilant after reports of people being scammed for house repairs and cleaning.
Police are warning residents to be vigilant after reports of people being scammed for house repairs and cleaning. John Gass

Travelling winter 'gypsies' are targeting elderly residents

TRAVELLING winter "gypsies" are targeting elderly and vulnerable people within the Wide Bay Burnett, conning them into paying for scams involving house repairs and cleaning.

Bundaberg Criminal Investigation Branch Detective Senior Sergeant Joe Hildred said the latest complaint came from a Maryborough resident, who said a man came to their door and stated: "I came to check the roof."

"He checked the roof and stated that the bricks needed cleaning, so he did it then asked for $800," Det Snr Sgt Hildred said.

"The victim gave him $50 to get rid of him."

The man was seen driving away in white Ford Falcon ute with Queensland registration plates.

"The vehicle had paint tins, Gerni and compressor in the back and had a yellow flashing light on top," he said.

"It is believed the suspect has previously been identified as a member of the English Gypsies, a group targeting elderly and vulnerable persons for scams involving house repairs, cleaning and driveway work.

Det Snr Sgt Hildred said the English Gypsies had been operating for nearly 20 years, with the group even stemming to Europe.

"They have, in the past, been aggressive and used standover tactics to intimidate elderly and vulnerable persons," he said.

"They make out they are supposed to be there and they will bully an older person into being compliant."

Det Snr Sgt Hildred said he believed the con artists were in the Bundaberg region about 12 months ago.

"They are generally active in Queensland during the winter months," he said.

"It's not uncommon for them to work north and then head south, going inland finding people to extort."

Det Snr Sgt Hildred the suspect was believed to have targeted elderly victims in Wooloowin, Injune, Albany Creek and Crows Nest.

He warned residents to be vigilant and, if they felt intimidated or bullied by suspicious-acting door-to-door salespeople, to take note of their description and their car registration.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000 or Bundaberg Police on 4153 9111.



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