Elderly couple latest victims of 'Irish gypsy scam after handing over $30,000 for roof works to fake tradesmen' - as police prepare to press charges amid reports the group have fled the country

Daily Mail, Australia/March 12, 2018

By Matt Leclere and Kate Darval

An elderly couple have become the latest alleged victims of Irish gypsy scammers after reportedly handing over nearly $30,000 for roofing work.

The group of tradesman have now reportedly gone to ground and may have fled the country, police in Queensland said. 

The couple in their 80s from the Gold Coast, were approached by a group of three men knocking doors and looking for business, it is claimed.

But neighbours said they were suspicious of the work after fencing was not put up and the workers only used tape.

One also told A Current Affair he was concerned about the scaffolding structure but they were wearing PPE clothing.

Bob Holmes, one local who tried to set up a police sting after suspecting a scam, said: 'He said they were just breaking it up and throwing it off the roof into a skip. That started alarm bells ringing.'

But when the group grew suspicious themselves of what was going on, they left the house before police arrived.

Mr Holmes, 75, gave them a barrage as they left the site saying he would 'shoot your kneecaps out' if he had a gun.

Journalists for ACA received a phonecall where a man with an Irish accent refers to their ancestors as 'thieves, whores, prostitutes, murderers and robbers'.

According to the Channel 9 program the number which called their office is linked to a Facebook profile belonging to a man named Jimmy Quinn.

Mr Quinn has recently shared links to media articles about a spate of scams and thefts across Brisbane and other videos of roofing and building work.

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Mr Quinn is responsible or involved with any alleged scams. 

Queensland Police have linked several alleged thefts and scams to a group of Irish travellers.

The force said 'a number of people' are understood to have left Australia 'in the last 18 hours'.

Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming said he believes there is enough proof 'beyond reasonable doubt' to bring a case before the courts for four people who remain.

'What's particularly concerning is that it's elderly people who are victims of this,' Detective Superintendent Fleming added. 

He said news of their departure from Australia was 'very good for the future prevention of crime'.

A statement for the Australian Border Force said it would be working closely with domestic and international law enforcement to share information.

Police issued a warning to Queenslanders on Friday to be vigilant of a group of potential scammers warning them about offering roofing and bitumen driveway works.

Officers now believe the group of four people who have not left the country may have travelled interstate from Queensland.

A travel agent said on Monday that a group of Irish gypsies have left the country after she booked tickets for seven adults, six children and infants. 

An anonymous Facebook message from the worker told Brisbane's Hit radio station a group of men came in booking tickets to fly out to Hawaii on Saturday evening.

The men all said to the travel agent that it was a surprise for their wives. 

The same agent also said another man came in later and asked to get on the same flight to Hawaii but couldn't be fit in to that evening flight. 

He then went to another agency to and booked a flight with his family to the U.K and left the next morning. 

The agent said the men intended to travel from Hawaii.  

The travel agent said in the message the customers did look suspicious but they didn't intend to fraud her so she processed the tickets. 

She later found out authorities had allegedly planned to deport them and not charge the group for any damages for the small businesses and properties. 

Another woman called Carrie phoned in to the radio show confirming the Irish Travellers had left the country on Saturday. 

According to her friend 'that is in the authorities' there were no issues for the travellers when they were leaving and they weren't detained at the airport. 

'They usually go in groups so i'm sure they all left today, ' the caller said.  

The Irish travellers were accused of stealing their way through Brisbane after they left a vile message for a property manager they allegedly scammed.

The at least four women, accompanied by several men, are accused of stealing groceries from supermarkets and scamming restaurants for free meals by claiming they found glass or hair in their food. 

Property manager Clara Carmichael spoke publicly about the group allegedly destroying four brand new apartments in Brisbane, one of the men left her a vile and abusive message. 

'You won't be able to get any more payouts on your big plastic lips or your big plastic rubber face. You're a dirty, smelly Australian slapper. Bye now,' he said. 

Ms Carmichael shared the message on Monday after the group trashed a number of rental apartments. 

She claimed they left a trail of destruction when they fled the apartments in the middle of the night.

Photos show carpet badly stained with black marks, walls dented and sink basins smashed in. 

Ms Carmichael claimed they also left a toilet clogged with potatoes. 

'It was a little bit disturbing,' she told the Today show on Monday. 

Ms Carmichael claimed the group was violent towards each other and neighbours.

'They terrorised the other tenants in the building. People were scared to come in and out,' she told Seven News. 

Ms Carmichael said the group of travellers made a good first impression when they applied to rent the apartments.  

'Our buildings are close to quite a big church and they said they wanted to live there because they liked to attend church regularly,' she said. 

She said it wasn't long before their behaviour turned 'threatening' and they allegedly stopped paying rent. 

Ms Carmichael said they were forced to remove some members from the building, while others fled in the middle of the night. 

'Someone has to say something to stop the reign of terror they're unleashing on the community,' she said. 

'People work hard in their businesses and to be scammed like this on such a big level, it's just not fair. It needs to be stopped.'  

The property damage is just the most recent in a string of crimes the group of Irish travellers is allegedly behind. 

Previously, the group has allegedly used their children to swipe designer shoes, police revealed today as they released new pictures of the suspects.

One mother distracted a shop worker while her toddler allegedly pilfered a pair of Chanel shoes, worth hundreds of dollars, and placed them in a pram. 

The alleged crime is among 12 complaints Queensland Police have received about the same group of Irish tourists since January.

The women are believed to be accompanied in the country by several men.

Police say the men solicit for work offering discounted repairs on driveways and roofing before doing a botched job or failing to even turn up. 

'There's a bit of an art and craft to this, they generally remain highly mobile and they don't stay in one place too long and my experience tells me they are generally alert to the practices of police,' Fleming said. 

'Based on the CCTV they don't seem to be concerned in any way shape or form about being seen or detected, that either means they've done nothing wrong or they're incredibly brazen and they have no respect for the law and more importantly have no respect for the people in our community. 

CCTV footage appeared to show at least two women filling their bags at Brisbane's Chevron Island supermarket before allegedly making off with stolen shopping.

The CCTV footage show how a staff member approaches the group before the blonde woman appears to frantically unload the goods from her handbag into her basket, revealing the items she allegedly planned to steal. 

Shocking footage also shows one of the women allegedly swiping a stack of meat trays from the shop floor.

Queensland police told Daily Mail Australia: 'Police are aware of the incident and are making follow up inquiries.' 

Police are now investigating if the mothers are linked to an Irish fraudster who was recently arrested in Broadbeach but failed to show up at court, reported Seven News.

Several small business owners across Brisbane claim they have been scammed by the same women, who have been spotted around the city with two prams and at least four children.

Managers of several restaurants claim the women have been planting shards of glass in their meals before refusing to pay. 

In another recent scam, the Irish travellers allegedly ordered sandwiches at a coffee shop but when the manager asked for payment, the women claimed they had been given the wrong food the day before and wanted their meals - worth $20 - for free.  

The manager said he had worked the previous day and hadn't seen the women at all.

'They started getting aggressive and so then I eventually just gave them three of the sandwiches that they said they ordered and then they asked for another one,' he told the Brisbane Times.

Staff at the International Hotel also claimed the same women came into their venue, asking for free drinks and cigarettes because the cigarette machine wasn't working.

'At the end they complained the steak wasn't cooked properly so obviously we gave them a free meal,' Nikki Watts of the International Hotel told Seven News.  

One canny restaurant manager convinced the women to leave their details with him after sensing he was being scammed by the infamous glass trick.

Mido Nassif, who works at Wilson's seafood restaurant, asked the women for their contact details on the pretense of wanting to later check if they were OK.

One woman then wrote a note with the name 'Jenny' above a UK address and phone number.

The note said they were staying 'In Birisborin' (Brisbane) at a 'Hilton Hotel'. 

The manager said the two women - who were dressed like they were 'going to a nightclub' - left without paying their $260 bill. 

The Irish travellers first came to public attention when the owner of Bird's Nest restaurant Marie Yokoyama shared her experience of the glass scam on Facebook and warned other owners to watch out. 

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