Fake tradie who destroyed 68-year-old’s home exposed

    By Nat Wallace, https://9now.nine.com.au/

    A fake tradie who destroyed a man’s house and drained his life savings in one of the worst cases seen on A Current Affair has been exposed as a father who regularly attends church with his family.

    Tevita Ungounga and his wife Siosiana. (A Current Affair)

    Tevita Ungounga is well known to Fair Trading and New South Wales Police, but despite multiple public warnings and convictions, the 55-year-old from Moorebank has continued to work and left some homeowners in financial ruin.

    One of his victims, Ian O’Connor from Illawong, gave Ungounga $235,000 to build a seawall and renovate his quaint home.

    The 68-year-old was left with holes in his walls, unfinished rooms, and two years on still has no running water.

    “He’s a pig, a disgusting pig,” Mr O’Connor said.

    “He seemed quite nice, very friendly, but I guess you could say most conmen are.”

    Mr O’Connor not only lost his life savings but has had to put off retirement, and work to pay for a rebuild of his home.

    A Current Affair confronted Ungounga outside a police station, where he was arrested and charged for more building offences.

    He’s now accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $220,000 from homeowners for unfinished and defective work to their homes.

    Those allegations are currently before the court.

    Complaints about Ungounga date back to 1998 when he lived in Hawaii.

    The country’s taxation department got involved and estimated his work income at over $1.4 million in four years, and he was jailed for 60 days after failing to declare it.

    In a civil case, media reports have quoted the Regulatory Industries Complaints Office as saying: “He’s just very, very good at what he does”.

    Ungounga and his wife Siosiana, under the company name T & T Sandstone Construction Pty Ltd, were fined a combined total of $90,000 for engaging in significant residential building work without the required license in Australia in 2015.

    He was later sentenced to a 14-month Intensive corrections order this year for what he did to Mr O’Connor.

    NSW Police have now charged Ungounga with 36 offences.

    Fair Trading has issued three public warnings (on October 24, August 11, 2020, and March 1, 2021) about the unlicensed and uninsured tradie and has urged consumers to do their checks before engaging with Ungounga.

    Ungounga, who regularly attends the Church of Latter-Day Saints with his family, told A Current Affair: “I never take the money and go, I do the job”.

    Mr O’Connor’s family and friends are trying to raise money so Mr O’Connor can rebuild his home.

    Homeowners can safeguard against becoming a victim by following a number of simple tips:

    • Never let anyone inside you house or unit if you don’t know them
    • Always ask for identification — a business card is not enough
    • Never keep large amounts of money around the house
    • If you are uncertain about the credibility of tradespeople, obtain their details and contact the Department of Fair Trading
    • Contact your local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000

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