Fair Trading Deputy Commissioner Steve Griffin is warning consumers on the NSW Far North Coast to beware of bitumen bandits offering to lay asphalt on driveways at cheap rates.

Mr Griffin said Fair Trading was investigating reports of itinerant traders attempting to scam locals at Bangalow and possibly Lennox Head with cheap bitumen laying offers.

“Fair Trading has operational people in the field tracking the movements of these shonks,” he said.

“Bitumen bandits generally target older, vulnerable people in rural and regional areas and have been subject to ongoing Fair Trading investigations.”

Fair Trading issued warnings on bitumen bandits on four occasions last year and twice this year when they appeared on the South Coast and on the outskirts of south-western Sydney.

A group was caught operating in Taree, Old Bar and Tinonee in February last year. Three penalty notices worth $2250 were issued.

The bandits use a seemingly plausible reason to gain people’s confidence and in the worst cases, lie in wait for people to leave their homes.

They will often say they have leftover material from a local council job or Roads and Traffic Authority job and can do a good price.

They also ask for cash in hand and are known to keep a watch on homeowners to see when they leave their property. When they do, the bandits will turn up with a large group and start laying bitumen without consent.

Mr Griffin said bitumen bandits often attempted to bully residents into paying for substandard work.

“After completing the work, the bandits quickly leave the area and consumers are unable to contact them or obtain refunds or warranties,” he said.

Mr Griffin urged residents to contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20 if they have been approached by bitumen bandits.

“Wherever possible, get the car rego of the bandits and any other identifying information, such as contact details, including mobile phone numbers,” he said.