Urgent scam alert as Aussie schools, childcare centres targeted

Scammers are aiming to rip off Australians across the country by duping them into road repairs.

A new scam is doing the rounds and this time schools and childcare centres are under siege. As part of the ploy, callers are offering to carry out repairs to car park line markings for a reduced price because they're "in the area", according to the Roadmarking Industry Association of Australia (RIAA).

"But in reality, poor quality works are then completed by clearly untrained operators at greatly inflated rates," RIAA General Manager Paul Robinson said. "Or if a deposit is paid, no works are done at all."

He adds that perpetrators "appear to be of Irish background", are often using intimidatory or aggressive behaviour to coerce people to pay, and are even pretending to work for some of Australia's best-known line marking companies such as Oz Linemarking.

Workers from Oz Linemarking, which has been linked to a scam
Managing Director of Oz Linemarking, Ian Clark, said he was "angry and deeply saddened" that the company's name has been linked to the scam. Source: Oz Linemarking

Regional school reports scam

The RIAA says the scam broke out in South East Queensland before travelling to New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and that police in multiple states are investigating. Meanwhile earlier this month, Tamworth Regional Council issued a "scam alert" about the operation on Facebook.

"We have been made aware a male with an English accent phoned a school claiming to work for Tamworth Regional Council, offering to paint pavement for payment using line marking paint surplus from road works in the South Tamworth area," the alert reads. "Please know this is not how Council conducts business."

It urged anyone contacted with a similar offer to call the Police Assistance Line on 131 44.

Marlene Kairouz
Marlene Kairouz said she "delivered the message poorly" when warning people not to open the door to anyone with an Irish accent. Source: AAP

'Irish accent' comment left minister in hot water

Warnings about con men with Irish accents are reminiscent of an incident in 2017 that left a Victorian politician in hot water. Marlene Kairouz, who was the Minister for Consumer Affairs at the time, was forced to apologise after telling journalists that "if anybody knocks on your door that has an Irish accent" to "automatically ask them to leave".

She later admitted that she "delivered the message poorly" and apologised for causing offence with her "poor choice of words".

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