Tuesday 21 August 2018

Police say Irish tourists accused of scams have left Australia, others 'gone to ground'

Australian police have released images of the suspects believed to be Irish Photo: Queensland police
Australian police have released images of the suspects believed to be Irish Photo: Queensland police
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A number of Irish tourists accused of carrying out scams and thefts across south-east Australia have now left the country, police say.

They recently released images of four people they are looking for in connection with the alleged scams who could still be in the Queensland area.

"Whilst the four people may still be in Queensland it is possible they have since travelled interstate to avoid police," a police statement said.

The revelation that some of the Irish group had left Australia came as a travel agent told Brisbane’s Hit 105 radio that she booked flights for several of them.

Australian police have released images of the suspects believed to be Irish Photo: Queensland police
Australian police have released images of the suspects believed to be Irish Photo: Queensland police

The woman said she didn't recognise any of their faces but they all had valid passports and payment so she didn't question it.

"They have flown to Hawaii but they mentioned they intend to continue their travel somewhere else. Now I've been asked why I booked them. First, I didn't hear the news.

"Yes they did look suspicious. Such a big family travelling on the same day, but they were not trying to defraud me and they didn't defraud me. We are not Interpol, we just sell travel."

Police are investigating 12 offences which have occurred between Brisbane and the Gold Coast since January involving nine people, all believed to be tourists from Ireland.

Australian police have released images of the suspects believed to be Irish Photo: Queensland police
Australian police have released images of the suspects believed to be Irish Photo: Queensland police

They are accused of stealing goods and money from retail stores as well as obtaining free food and beverages from restaurants claiming foreign objects, such as glass, are in their food.

Police said that a group of men are offering discounted repairs on bitumen driveways and roofing whilst providing sub-standard services or failing to complete the work.

In one case, an elderly man lost more than $25,000 (€15,900) when he paid men to repair his roof, but they never finished the job.

Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming, Brisbane Region said the groups are targeting small businesses and the elderly.

"They are good at creating diversions and distractions/disruptions to either steal goods or demand goods and services for free. They are aggressive and usually work in groups of two or more.

"I encourage anyone who believes they may have fallen victims to these people, and who haven’t already reported it to police, to contact Policelink on 131 444."

Meanwhile, a property owner in Australia has allegedly lost thousands of dollars and has been subjected to vile abuse after a group of Irish scammers rented apartments from her.

Clara Carmichael told RTÉ's Liveline programme that she first encountered the group late last year when she rented four units to four families who said they were friends through a church group.

"We first came across them late last year, maybe September, October when a group of four different families who were all friends rented apartments in one of the buildings that I own and run," she said.

They gave names with identifications and numbers which all checked out at the time she said but things soured quickly.

"We had a lot of complaints from other tenants, they were terrorising other people in the building, people were scared to come and go,"she added.

A voice message was played on the show left by one of the group to Ms Carmichael - the messages were often threatening and sexually explcit.

"You're a dirty, smelly Australian slapper," the man said in the message.

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