Until now, fraud attempts were mainly for apartments but lately more and more fraudulent ads also are for rooms.
It is usually a “too nice to be true” ad. An accommodation very well situated, with nice pictures at a very interesting price. The ad is often in English.
When you email a request, the landlord gets back to you very politely that he/she is abroad at the moment for professional reasons (France, UK, etc). Often, he/she says that his/her daughter/son no longer needs it and now he/she wishes to find a suitable person who could take very good care of the apartment while he/she is away.
He/she will send you a form to fill in which will contain these kind of questions:
RENTAL APPLICATION FORM.
DATE OF BIRTH:_________?
HOW LONG?___________IF RENTING
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING your place of Rent__________?
HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING?____________?
WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN?______________?
IF YOU HAVE A PET,______________?
KIND OF PETS:_____________?
DO YOU WORK LATE NIGHT?____?
Nom & prénoms:………………
Ville de résidence actuelle:…………….
Téléphone (Fixe et GSM):………………
Revenu mensuel approximatif:………………….
Durée de bail:…………………………………………….
Qui payera le loyer a chaque fin du mois:……………
Nombre de personnes à occuper le logement:…………
He/she can also give you the name of a third party, a lawyer, or a rental company who will take care of all the formalities during his/her absence.
Generally, the email address and/or the name of the person writing to you are different from those mentioned in the ad.
After several email exchanges, he/she will inform you that a last minute affair, which won’t be able to come in person to show you the place.
He/she will ask for a payment (generally through: Western Union, Money Gram, RIA, Neosurf (etc), or any random bank account and even through AirBnB) after which he/she can send you the apartment’s keys on an express way or to give it to you during the visit.
If the first rent or warranty are requested, do not pay in cash and do not make any payment via Western Union, MoneyGram, RIA,with a financial institution not located in Switzerland, AirBnB (if the offer seems suspicious) etc., and prefer payment through a Swiss bank.
Keep in mind that the market price is real and that it is impossible to get a 4.5 rooms apartment in the Lausanne area for CHF 650 .- per month.
It is advisable to make a phone call before sending any personal data (be careful of foreign numbers, Whatsapp calls, postponements of appointments, people too busy).
Check if the photos of the property are not from the web, using the “Google Images” tool for example.
Check if the address exists and do not hesitate to go on the spot to check.
Never send ID documents or IBAN by email.
Always ask yourself the following question: “Why is the advertiser so interested and in a hurry to get all my personal data?” The crooks do not hesitate to send you identity documents to prove their good faith, be careful! Identity documents provided by victims are very often used by crooks to legitimize themselves in other scams and give confidence to their new victims. Very often, they even create email addresses using your personal data.
File a complaint, or at least report the cases to the police, allows them to have an overview and to carry out more targeted actions (closure of a site / account).
In case of scam or attempt on the Internet, do not hesitate also to report the email / fraudulent ad to the owner of the website to remove the ad or account.
In case of doubt, do not hesitate to forward us your email exchanges providing the url you have found the ad and we will then give you our input.
Police advice(only in French)
Avis Police – Délits (PDF) (only in French)
Prévention Suisse de la criminalité (only in German, French or Italian)
French Swiss television report on cases regarding housing scams (only in French):
Website gathering scam attempts (only in French)
NEVER pay to visit an apartment, neither in advance nor in person
NEVER send money to anyone if you don’t know them (mailing address, phone number, etc)
DON’T accept any offer you can, just because you’re worried you won’t find housing
DON’T agree to everything – the right of refusal can only help you
NEVER agree to anything under pressure