• Sweden's news in English

Foreigners' identities stolen in housing scam

7 Nov 2012, 17:42

Published: 07 Nov 2012 17:42 GMT+01:00

“I’ve got no connection with Sweden at all, I don’t know how my name got involved in this,” Dr David Ramsdale, a cardiologist from Liverpool in Britain, told The Local.

Ramsdale’s name and photo were taken from the website of his hospital two weeks ago by a scammer preying on eager house-hunters in the west of Sweden.

His identity was then posted on a Swedish buy-sell site, together with a link to images of an apartment’s interior. Subsequent emails to interested Swedes explained that Ramsdale owned the flat but was unable to come to Sweden for a meeting.

However, if a 4,500 kronor ($675) deposit could be paid to him in the UK, he could send over the keys, according to the email.

“I had seven or eight emails from Swedes who were bright enough to do a background check. They all said that there had been other scams and they were just making sure,” he explained.

“I felt really bad for them. I emailed back, but there was nothing I could do for anyone else who saw the ad.”

While Ramsdale was concerned about the plight of house-hunters in Sweden, he was also worried about the theft of his own identity, and contacted UK police.

“The police said that no crime had been committed and that they couldn’t do anything unless I could prove that someone had made money from my name. I can’t prove it, I have no idea,” he said.

“I’m worried people might think it's actually me and I feel helpless. The most useful thing I could do was respond to the emails.”

With thousands of students, expats and jobseekers looking for housing nationwide, coupled with a chronic shortage of rental apartments in Sweden's main cities, more and more people are falling victim to similar scams.

Fifteen people were stung in a mass housing fraud in Stockholm on Monday, according to the Aftonbladet newspaper, where each of the house-hunters lost an “advance rent payment” of 5,500 kronor after responding to an ad on Blocket.se, a Swedish buy-sell website.

The “home-owner” had told them she needed the money to ensure that her trip across the country from Gothenburg wasn't going to be a waste of her time.

But it wasn’t until all 15 people showed up to pick up a set of non-existent keys they realized they had been duped.

Meanwhile, Ramsdale's stolen identity case is not the first time scammers have used a foreign professional's title to lend credence to their offer.

A person claiming to be a neuro-oncology doctor from London, David S Wilson, has become notorious on house-hunting websites for a scam of his own making.

When The Local requested more information about Wilson's flat, a reply in bad English (see verbatim email below) described in detail how it was furnished, the parking facilities and even the pictures on the wall:

“i bought this apartment for my son during he's studies, but now he's back home in London UK permanently, so i'm renting the place for unlimited time,” the email stated. It ended by requesting our name and contact details followed by a request for a “security deposit” of 5,000 kronor.

According to information on anti-fraud website Scamwarner.com, the same email has been used to try to defraud people as far away as Finland and Belgium.

So how can someone be sure they’re not getting fooled?

Jarl Jönsson, an advisor at the Swedish Tenants' Association (Hyresgästföreningen), explained that the key is to be extremely thorough, no matter how desperate you are.

“Always go to the house and be sure there is an apartment there to begin with. While you’re there, check whether the building owner's name is posted on a notice in the lobby. It’s a good idea to call them and be sure the would-be landlord has permission to rent it,” he told The Local in August.

“And before you hand over any money, also be sure to actually talk to the landlord.”

While Ramsdale no longer receives emails about the apartment, he has since discovered that a colleague had been hit by a similar Swedish scam, and reported the matter to Swedish police but to no avail.

Claiming that authorities are “uninterested unless someone is killed”, Ramsdale expects that the trend can only continue in the same direction.

“Someone is suffering somewhere and it’s terrible. But even if they sort it out in Sweden, the con artists will probably just move on,” he told The Local.

“All I can say is that I would never give away my money like that. People shouldn’t give anyone money until they’ve at least seen a property.”

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

Your comments about this article

19:40 November 7, 2012 by Gaviero
I'm currently househunting in Uppsala and about to give up on Blocket after these scams have really proliferated recently. They are fairly easy to spot but I guess the way the market is people are desperate enough to fall for it.

From the times the emails are sent I guess the culprits are based to the east

Here's one example as a warning:


Tack för ditt intresse för min lägenhet. Tyvärr har jag inte skrivit på svenska, eftersom jag inte talar mycket bra och är bättre att skriva på engelska. Om du har svårt att förstå mitt budskap på engelska, tveka inte att kontakta mig på svenska, och jag ska göra mitt bästa för att svara på alla dina frågor.

My name is Christopher John Hughes, 47 years old english designer and from the internet add, you could see, i have available this apartment on Vaksalagatan, 753 31, Uppsala ( 75 m2 ) .I am looking for someone to live in it, as soon as possible, because i recently divorced and I started a new life with a new job back to my country in England , U.K. I am currently located in London . The renting period is from 3 months upto 1-8 years. As a result of this I want to rent, for this period, at this price and also to find the perfect person for my apartment. I`m the owner of the apt and it's like in the pics.

The apartment is furnished, but I have the option of sending all my furniture into storage if you want to bring your own (no extra costs). The rent for 1 month is only 5500 Kr (for the whole apartment) including all utilities (water, electricity, Internet, cable, parking, air conditioning, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator) so, the price you shall pay for one month of rent will be 5500 Kr + 5500 Kr security deposit (only first month the deposit) , with no extra taxes to pay , I really don't want to get rich from this rent ,i just want someone responsible to live th ere and to take care of the flat . You can move in the apt in the same day when you receive the keys. The only problem is that I`m the only person who has the keys but I hope that we will find a solution together.

For more pictures : http://www.bluemelon.com/vaksalagatan/3rokvaksalagatan#page-0

Thank you for your interest and I will look forward to hearing from you soon.

Christopher John Hughes
21:43 November 7, 2012 by matona1
easy scam if you are not a fool,why paying for somwthing you can not verify
09:42 November 8, 2012 by JoshArnold
Easy to identify such scam ... i was once offered an apartment in Copenhagen by some one living in UK ... he/she even offered me to visit the apartment but i could only see it from the road LOL... that was an easy one .....

However when i rented my apartment from a girl in malmo ... i was so skeptical in the beginning that I thought she might be a scammer as well ... however she wasnt involved in any nonsense demands like ... rent in advance and i am in UK things
17:56 November 9, 2012 by StinaRT
My husband and I were offered an apartment by the fake David S. Wilson. No way were we going to give him money.
13:57 November 11, 2012 by bbw
I faced such stupid ad on blocket some time ago, but i just simply ignored the offer as it sounds really silly to send money to someone i don't know.

the question is, how may i check if i am renting the house from the landlord not someone like old tenant, actors, etc. is there any website to check if the one who is renting out the apartment has the legal rights to rent the place?

what if I pay the deposit or let's say first month rent to previous tenant and the real landlord show up later asking his apartment?

Thanks in advance for your comments !

also thanks the local who choose this title :)
Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Sweden minister: 'Deport more asylum seekers'
Refugees arriving in Stockholm last month. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Sweden minister: 'Deport more asylum seekers'

28 minutes ago

Forced deportations of asylum seekers who have been refused entry to Sweden must be intensified, Swedish minister for migration, Morgan Johansson, told Swedish Radio on Saturday.

Accord collapse could spark snap Swedish poll
The Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven, and Anna Kinberg Batra, leader of the main opposition party, the Moderates. Photo: Henrik Montgomery / TT

Accord collapse could spark snap Swedish poll

23 hours ago

UPDATED: The Christian Democrats' decision to pull out of the controversial December Agreement has led to all of the parties of Sweden's centre-right Alliance opposition grouping nullifying the accord in a decision Prime Minister Stefan Löfven called "outrageous" and which could lead to a snap general election.

Undercover beggar: 'Swedes are coldhearted'
Photo: Patrik Söderström

Undercover beggar: 'Swedes are coldhearted'

23 hours ago

Patrik Söderström, a 24-year-old student from the town of Boden in northern Sweden, wanted to test whether the Swedes treated foreign beggars as badly as he had suspected. After spending less than half a day as a “Swedish beggar”, he says the real results shocked and disappointed him.

Refugee crisis
Relocated refugees land in northern Sweden
The Eritrean group landing in Luleå on Friday afternoon. Photo: Robert Nyholm/TT

Relocated refugees land in northern Sweden

1 day ago

UPDATED: A group of 19 Eritreans landed at Luleå airport in northern Sweden on Friday as part of the first phase of a programme to relocate tens of thousands of refugees within the EU.

Refugee Crisis
Tents to provide shelter for refugees in Sweden
Education Minister Gustav Fridolin and Stefan Löfven at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Christine Olsson/ TT

Tents to provide shelter for refugees in Sweden

1 day ago

UPDATED: Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has given Sweden's migration agency permission to set up tent camps to provide temporary shelter for refugees as the country's asylum centres reach saturation point.

Euro 2016
'Liechtenstein is like a woman who can’t dance'
The Swedish team is preparing to dance with Liechtenstein ahead of Friday’s clash. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

'Liechtenstein is like a woman who can’t dance'

1 day ago

As Sweden gears up to take on Liechtenstein in Friday’s crucial qualifier for the 2016 European Championships, Swedish coach Erik Hamrén has looked to other disciplines to ensure his team will walk away with the much-needed three-point win. Apparently, Liechtenstein can’t dance.

My Swedish Career
How to negotiate your dream salary in Sweden
How do you negotiate your salary in Sweden? Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

How to negotiate your dream salary in Sweden

1 day ago

From startups to multinationals, many firms in Sweden fix salaries differently to elsewhere in the world. Swedish culture specialist Sofi Tegsveden Deveaux shares her top negotiating tips with The Local.

Swedish herring party sparks gas leak fears
Fermented herring, or "surströmming", is famed for its smell. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/Scanpix

Swedish herring party sparks gas leak fears

1 day ago

A team from the Swedish rescue services were more than a little surprised when a presumed gas leak in an apartment building in southern Stockholm turned out to be no more than a fermented herring party.

Swedish military lifts lid on foreign intrusions
Two Swedish JAS Gripen jets taking off. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

Swedish military lifts lid on foreign intrusions

1 day ago

Sweden's Armed Forces on Friday for the first time disclosed secret information about the foreign powers violating Swedish territory in the past five years. Top of the list? The United States.

The Local Recipes
How to make pork fillet with Swedish apples
Pork fillet with Swedish apples. Photo: John Duxbury

How to make pork fillet with Swedish apples

1 day ago

Perfect for a cosy autumn or winter evening, this dish, called 'fläskfile med äpplen' in Swedish, was inspired by food writer John Duxbury's visit to Kivik, southern Sweden's apple capital.

Nobel Literature Laureate 2015
IN PICTURES: Your best snaps of Northern Lights in Sweden
Five great art exhibitions in Sweden
Sponsored Article
'Sweden needs a stake in the global news game'
Sponsored Article
Stockholm International School: helping expat students feel at home
Blog updates

2 October

Editor’s blog, October 2nd (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi everyone, If you have been reading about Sweden in the international media this week, you would..." READ »


24 September

Checklist for your Swedish writing (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej hej! I thought I should share a checklist that I have made for my students. Enjoy! Spelling Did..." READ »

Sweden's Nobel Chemistry Laureate: 'he likes science and wine'
The secret to more travel for less
People-watching: October 7th
Sponsored Article
Swedes 'know more about sex' than Brits
Is Sweden no longer the world leader in gender equality?
Sponsored Article
11 reasons students pick Stockholm University
Nobel Physics Laureates 2015
Business & Money
Is Sweden heading for housing crash?
Sweden mourns Nordic Noir legend
Analysis & Opinion
Why Sweden's 'six-hour day' is bogus
Nobel Medicine Laureates 2015
Business & Money
Five essential tips for buying your first home in Sweden
Property of the week: Tumlehed, Gothenburg
How to never miss your favourite features on The Local
People-watching: October 2nd-4th
Swedes cash in on new bank notes
Meet the winners of Sweden's 'alternative Nobel' prize
Rise in wolf attacks on animals in central Swedish town
People-watching: September 30th
Sponsored Article
#LifeChangingOptions: Change lives with birth control
IN PICTURES: Sweden's new notes
DEBATE: Is joining a Swedish startup always worth the risk?
Why Sweden has launched sex books for disabled teens
Sponsored Article
Rugby in Scandinavia: an expat love story
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: