Elderly targeted in fake-tradie brothers’ $70,000 scam
TWO fake-tradie brothers who scammed elderly, vulnerable people out of almost $70,000 had nothing to say to their victims as each walked from court.
The "prime mover" Reenarto Caston, 26, and his older brother Charles Jacob Caston, 29, stole from, conned and attempted to con people into paying exorbitantly-high prices for home-maintenance work on houses in Nambour, Gympie, Beenleigh and Ipswich.
Maroochydore District Court today heard the scammers would approach victims at their homes and offer to do work such as painting, pressure cleaning and pest control then made them write cash cheques for the sub-par, unlicensed or incomplete works without providing costs or quotes.
The worst hit was a 77-year-old Gympie lady who lived alone.
She was out of pocket $61,000 after first paying $6500 for Reenarto and Charles to paint her home.
They started, but Reenarto repeatedly returned and demanded cash cheques for services, including $14,500 for "termite control" which a court previously heard involved using store-bought bug bombs.
Judge Gary Long said Reenarto was the "prime mover" in the fraud, but said Charles was guilty for supporting his brother in the commission of the offence.
Each pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining the $61,000 between August 8, 2018 and January 5, 2019.
Reenarto also pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining $2500 from a 75-year-old Nambour man on January 7, who he drove to a bank to withdraw cash he claimed was for pest control, pressure cleaning, snake repellent and to check a roller door worked.
Judge Long said his victim felt "compelled" to withdraw the money despite feeling he was getting "ripped off".
Days later on January 8, police arrested Reenarto in Pomona where he was found living in a caravan worth $85,000 and in possession of an ill-gotten $14,500 cash.
Both were forfeited to repay the Gympie victim compensation, and Reenarto was ordered to pay a further $2500 compensation to the Nambour man by December next year.
Charles pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted frauds in Beenleigh and Basin Pocket, Ipswich in December, and to stealing $1500 from a woman's handbag after he told her to leave her house while he conducted pest control.
Judge Long said both men should be "totally ashamed" of their actions, but when questioned outside court if he felt that way, Reenarto shook his head and said he had "done his time".
The brothers had each served almost 11 months in jail for their crimes and were released on bail earlier his month before they were sentenced today.
Reenarto was sentenced to three years' jail, suspended for five years after the time he had already served.
Charles was sentenced to two years' and nine months' jail, and ordered to pay $1500 restitution to the woman he stole from by December next year.