Scammer jailed over $360k in fake home improvement
A scammer who ripped off more than $360,000 in fake home improvements has been sentenced to prison time.
Martin McDonagh, a traveller from the UK, ran the scam across Melbourne's eastern suburbs during 2018 and 2019.
Pretending to be the owner of various home improvement companies he used the names Cody, Austin, Jackson and Harley to rip off eight people for work that was never started, never finished or done without permits.
In one case he ripped off a Burwood East man for $280,000 after the man called him about a sticking front door.
McDonagh told him there was nothing wrong with the door, but the entire house was coming off the foundations and needed to be re-stumped before it became "unliveable and unsellable" and quoted $96,000.
He then told the man the re-stumping work had damaged one side roof and said that would cost $120,000 to repair.
That work then damaged the other side of the roof which would cost $108,000 to fix, McDonagh told him.
But an independent inspector found there was no reason to underpin the house and the work hadn't even begun.Holes had been dug to make it appear as if work had been completed.
In another case McDonagh quoted up to $9000 to repair a balcony roof and sent in workers without discussing it with the property owner.
He then invoiced the woman $12,000 for the work. She paid $9000, refusing to give any more.
Homeowners paid $366,150 for work in McDonagh's scam.
McDonagh grew up in a traveller community in the UK, with a violent alcoholic father and among a dangerous and dysfunctional family feud that led to the death of an uncle.
He married at 18 and moved to Australia in 2015 to start a better life for his wife and son.
Judge James Parrish said McDonagh claimed to believe the fraudulent companies, which he was originally hired as a labourer to work for, were "legit".
He said he was paid $1000 a week and shared none of the profits.
"I should have looked into them more. I'm really sorry for everything that has happened," he said.
But the judge rejected McDonagh believed they were legitimate, saying as the face of the companies he exploited and deceived clients.
McDonagh was sentenced in the County Court on Monday to two years' jail, but will be eligible for parole in three months.
© AAP 2020