cruel crime | 

Revealed: Faces of Irish roof scammers who conned elderly Australians out of $434k

Michael Dooley (36), Johnny Dooley (34), and Joseph Ball (30) posed as contractors in wealthy Melbourne suburbs such as Kew and Camberwell.
Neasa Cumiskey

The original version of this article incorrectly included a photograph of a separate Mr Johnny Dooley from Hertfordshire, England. The Mr Dooley identified in the photograph has no criminal record and has never been involved in criminal activity. We apologise to Mr Dooley for this error and for any distress caused.

Three men from Ireland and the UK have been put behind bars for running a dodgy roof repair scam and swindling elderly Australians out of $434,000 (€288,800).

Killarney native Michael Dooley (36) and Johnny Dooley (34) were ordered by the County Court of Victoria to spend four years and nine months in prison while Joseph Ball (30), a dual citizen of Australia and the UK, was sentenced to four years.

From February to July 2020, the three men posed as contractors in wealthy Melbourne suburbs such as Kew and Camberwell.

They targeted homeowners in these areas by approaching them and explaining that they were working nearby when they noticed faults in their roofs.

The Dooleys and Mr Ball particularly the vulnerable elderly, with some of their victims aged in their 90s.

Once the owners agreed to let the trio repair the damages, they would remove tiles and pretend to notice more false damages, creating further issues and racking up additional costs for their clients.

The court heard that in many instances victims felt pressured to accept the additional costs and workload because the jobs had already begun, and their homes were exposed to weather.

The men’s “sophisticated” scheme involved several aliases, saw them establish fake companies, and register vehicles and phones under false identities to avoid being caught.

In one incident, Johnny and Michael Dooley convinced a husband and wife in Melbourne’s Sandringham suburb to pay $80,000 (€94,000) into their bank account after telling them their roof needed retiling immediately.

The Dooleys scammed the couple out of $147,888 (€98,400) in total. They received a full refund from their bank.

In another instance, a man gave $102,000 (€67,800) to the swindlers after he was told asbestos had been discovered in his roof and urgently needed to be removed.

Overall, Mr Ball and the Dooleys scammed 43 people across 37 separate incidents, not including four people who were victims of identification theft.

All three men had pleaded guilty to almost two dozen charges, including obtaining property by deception and obtaining financial advantage by deception.

On Tuesday, Judge Michael O'Connell told Victoria's County Court the trio that "the cost of your offending is much wider than the funds you obtained” as they left their elderly victims traumatised.

"Invariably, they were elderly, they felt keenly the need to have a sound roof over their heads and they were in no position to challenge your false representations as to the need for repairs and the costs of carrying out those repairs,” he said.

“Their mistake was to trust that you were being honest. Now, their confidence in ordinary people to do the right thing has been severely shaken.

"It is not difficult to infer a wider chilling effect that your dishonesty has had on those in the community who might wish to use a local tradesperson, but may hesitate to do so when they reflect on the experience of these victims."

Both Michael and John Dooley will be eligible for parole in less than a year’s time while Ball will be eligible in just two months.

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