Wingecarribee Shire Council is warning residents to be on the lookout for con men claiming to be contractors offering to undertake tree removal works on behalf of Council.
The call for vigilance follows reports of residents being approached by door-to-door ‘tree contractors’ claiming to have approval from Council to carry out cash-in-hand jobs.
The most recent incident was reported in the Mittagong area in November.
Council’s Group Manager of Planning, Development and Regulatory Services, Nick Wilton said Council staff and contractors do not undertake cash jobs.
“While Council sometimes enlists the services of qualified arborists, we never undertake any tree removal works on private property or public land without first notifying the resident or adjacent home owners in writing,” he said.
“In addition, Council’s Tree and Vegetation Officers will never provide pre-approval and will only inspect your tree once an application has been lodged.”
Any approvals from Council are always provided in writing.
Impersonating a Council employee or contractor is an offence and can result in criminal conviction.
“Unlawful tree removal can also leave unsuspecting home owners susceptible to liability and fines,” Mr Wilton said.
Fines for authorising or carrying out illegal tree removals start at $3000 and rise to over $1 million dollars should Court proceedings become necessary.
“Should residents require any tree maintenance work around the home we recommend they engage the services of a qualified arborist.”
Residents suspicious following any approaches by persons claiming to be Council contractors are encouraged to observe the offender’s description and vehicle and report the matter to the local Police.
“As these fake contractors haven’t been issued written consent, the work they are offering to undertake is fraudulent and illegal,” Mr Wilton added.
If you are approached by any bogus tradesperson offering services on behalf of Council contact Crime Stoppers on phone 1800 333 000.
For more information about illegal tradespersons including travelling con artists, contact the Department of Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/buying-products-and-services/scams.