Tribune de Genève.
This week the Geneva daily went undercover and identified one of many fraudulent advertisements for apartments in Geneva. Responding to an advertisement on the website immostreet.ch, they were given a false name, told they couldn’t view the apartment because the owner lives abroad, and asked to send funds to a bank account in the United Kingdom. The 2.5 room apartment in central Geneva close to the lake was advertised for CHF 1,250 per month before charges. The story they were told was elaborate and included anecdotes of wasted trips from the UK to Geneva to show the apartment to people who failed to turn up.
It turned out that the false name belonged to someone who was a victim of the fraudster and lost CHF 4,800. Posted around four weeks ago, viewed 1,226 times the advert has since been deleted. Immostreet deletes about three of these a week and the Swiss company Scout24, that manages Immoscout24.ch, says it is spending a seven figure amount annually on checks to combat fraud.
If the price is below market, the owner is abroad and it’s impossible to visit before making the first payment, this should be an alarm bell said Alexander Rechsteiner, spokesperson from the Federal Department of Justice.
Because it is unusual to find out who is behind these scams it is important to avoid them in the first place. The only certainty is that those who pay will not see their money again said Geneva Police spokesperson Jean-Philippe Brandt.