Police in Sydney arrested a man who allegedly took nearly $900,000 from victims in a roofing scam after they just happened to notice him in a car near the Sydney Airport.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Patrick Michael O’Brien was arrested on Monday in relation to a “large-scale fraud offence,” saying O’Brien, 39, scammed two women in Sydney out of $899,480 after claiming he would repair their roofs.
Both victims sought out roofing repairs from the hipages website, which provides Australians with online services to connect with contractors and tradespeople. One of the victims, a 56-year-old woman from Kensington, lost $623,180 after O’Brien reportedly didn’t finish repair work on her roof. The second victim, a 70-year-old woman from Stanmore, lost $276,300.
"The damage to these people was devastating. One of the [alleged] victims had to access her superannuation (a pension plan) to continue to make payments to try and get this work completed, which we allege there was no intention to complete," Detective Chief Inspector Damian Goodfellow told WA Today.
Goodfellow went on to explain that the victim had to move out of her home and pay other contractors more than $100,000 to complete the work that O’Brien had improperly done.
Goodfellow said it took weeks to identify and locate O’Brien. Police happened upon O’Brien sitting in a car outside of a hotel on Monday night. The arrest was made without incident. Both victims expressed their gratitude for the arrest, which Goodfellow said happened because they reported their incidents in the first place.
“They were very brave coming forward,” he said.
O’Brien, an Irish national, is being charged with receiving property stolen outside New South Wales and two counts of dishonesty obtaining property by deception. He was denied bail and will appear in court in June.