'Renovation guru' rips off friends for $100k
A self-proclaimed renovation guru has been slapped with a community corrections order after stealing $100,000 from her friends.
Unregistered builder Michelle Hosking created fraudulent invoices and overcharged two families undertaking separate projects.
Debbie and Neil Morton wanted to do something nice for themselves after chronic illness forced Mr Morton to retire from the police force, and decided to an upstairs extension on their home.
Mrs Morton told A Current Affair Hosking claimed she could do the project through her "amazing" contacts and get the couple "incredible" prices.
Their initial budget was $30,000.
"Nothing had been done but Michelle was asking, 'Is there any chance you can pay me cash?'" Mrs Morton said.
As costs mounted, and Mrs Morton was unable to get any answers from Hosking, she went to the tradies directly.
She said the tradies were surprised to hear she had paid out $50,000, as that was not what they had received.
It transpired that Hosking had been altering invoices to charge for work that had not been done, ultimately stealing more than $100,000 from Mrs Morton and another family.
"It is a betrayal, it really hurt a lot," Mrs Morton said.
"She was a friend. I just didn't think she would do this."
Hosking had also underquoted Mrs Morton, but the latter was forced to finish the works as a slab had already been laid.
Mrs Morton said she spent about $160,000 overall.
Hosking also did not have a builder's registration, despite using the title "project manager".
She was charged with two counts of theft, and was sentenced to a community corrections order that included 250 hours of unpaid community work.
The judge, who described Hosking's actions as a gross breach of trust, also said he planned to monitor her, which was an unusual step.
"Any little thing, even any driving offence, (the judge) said, 'You'll be off to jail'," Mrs Morton said.