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Scam targets flood victims

Bill Campbell, who lost his Murphys Creek home in the January floods, has received a bill for works carried out by what he thought were volunteers.
Bill Campbell, who lost his Murphys Creek home in the January floods, has received a bill for works carried out by what he thought were volunteers. John Farmer

FLOOD victims have become targets of a scam which involves them being billed for volunteer work done in the aftermath of the January 10 tragedy.

Bill and Pam Campbell, whose Murphys Creek home was destroyed in the floods, were some of the first people targeted.

In January last year, Mr Campbell was approached by a team of workers with heavy machinery offering to clear flood debris off his block.

He believed the work was to be done on a volunteer basis.

But Mr and Mrs Campbell have since received an invoice demanding $2750 for the use of an excavator and $405 for the hire of a tip-truck.

"We were shocked," Mr Campbell said.

"There was no doubt the work was done by volunteers.

The invoice was sent from Popazash Pty Ltd, of which Paul Morrison claimed he was a director. The company trades as Kildare Pastoral Company Queensland.

Fellow Murphys Creek resident Gerald Handley was also targeted with an invoice from Platinum Drilling and Transport demanding $618 for the use of an excavator.

That invoice is believed to have come from Mr Morrison.

At the completion of the volunteer work, Mr Morrison's company was appointed a major contractor in the Lockyer Valley Regional Council's flood recovery work.

The works were based in Murphys Creek, Helidon and Postmans Ridge.

Sub-contractors who worked for Mr Morrison are now owed more than $112,700.

Legal documents show that Kildare Pastoral Co was deregistered in 1993, that Mr Morrison had never been a director of Popazash Pty Ltd and that he was an undischarged bankrupt.

The Australian Business Number supplied by Mr Morrison was a personal one registered to himself.

Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss warned flood victims across Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley to be wary of the scam.

"It is disappointing that at the same time we see the best of mankind we also see the worst," he said.

Mr Rickuss told Parliament that Mr Morrison had used Platinum Drilling and Transport as a "cover for his deception, roguery and downright dishonesty".

"People need to be wary of any unexpected invoices," he said.

"If they're unsure of them, don't pay them and contact the relevant authorities."

A complaint has been lodged with Queensland Police and investigations are continuing.

But Mr Morrison claimed he was still owed more than $300,000 for work done for Lockyer Valley Regional Council.

"When we get paid, our subcontractors will get paid," he said.

Mr Morrison said he had dedicated a lot of time to the region in the wake of the floods and was now himself a victim.

"I've done more for that community than anyone else."

Lockyer Valley Regional Council is seeking legal advice on the matter.

Topics:  bill floods lockyer valley lockyer valley regional council machinery scam


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