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Three men charged over fraud scam targeting elderly

Three foreigners whose alleged roof repair scam fleeced vulnerable elderly people out of tens of thousands of dollars have been arrested trying to flee the country.

Two of the Irishmen, James O’Driscoll and Johnny Baker, faced Sydney’s Sutherland Local Court on Thursday after allegedly defrauding a 72-year-old Bexley man out of $42,000 after offering to do minor roof repairs on the victim’s home.

Neither man applied for bail and both cases were adjourned until March 29.

Police allege, in court documents, the scam involved approaching elderly people, convincing them they needed their roof fixed before requesting large amounts of cash.

Detectives say O’Driscoll fled the 72-year-old’s home when officers arrived and he then booked a flight to Hong Kong, which was due to leave Sydney last Monday morning.

NSW Police prepared to arrest him at Sydney Airport but the 20-year-old drove to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport for a scheduled flight to Shanghai also leaving on that Monday morning, it’s alleged.

He was arrested with $6000 in his baggage before being extradited to NSW, according to a police warrant.

Baker, 22, was stopped at Sydney Airport the previous Saturday trying to fly to Qatar with $12,875 in cash and some jewellery which police allege were the proceeds of crime.

Another member of the scam, a 20-year-old man, was arrested at Sydney Airport on March 7 allegedly bound for the United Kingdom on a stolen passport with large amounts of cash and jewellery in his luggage.

He’s been charged with aggravated break-and-enter and was also due to appear in Sutherland Local Court.

Police are now hunting for a fourth alleged offender.

They noted in court documents the group’s modus operandi was “strikingly similar to other fraud matters currently under investigation” in NSW and Victoria.

NSW Police in late 2018 said they were searching for a group of men involved in a series of roof repair scams in Sydney’s west.

A 90-year-old woman was approached by a group of men who offered to fix her Burwood home’s roof for $169,000, which she paid.

But when they came back for a further $220,000 to be transferred, her bank notified police.

Scammers also told two Milperra residents in December they were tilers and could repair their roof.

The residents paid the four men part of the money but became suspicious and asked to cancel the job.

The dodgy roofers refused to give back the money and left. But one of the residents noticed the remainder of the money had been taken from her wallet.

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