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How I got scammed in Stockholm by paying for an apartment that didn't exist

Jasmin Adolph
Jasmin Adolph - [email protected]
How I got scammed in Stockholm by paying for an apartment that didn't exist
It's easy to fall victim to an apartment scam, but there are tricks you can use to avoid it. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

German journalist Jasmin Adolph had landed an internship in Stockholm and found the perfect apartment. The only problem was: the apartment didn't exist. Here she shares her story with The Local about how she fell victim to an all-too-common scam.

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I knew nothing about Sweden before I got accepted for my internship.

Having never set foot in this country, I went down the research rabbit hole and found out a lot about Swedes’ mentality, cultural differences, and fika – the word for enjoying coffee and cake.

But nothing had prepared me for the scam that I experienced.

It was the end of March 2018 when I arrived in Sweden, and it was still snowing in Stockholm. Excitedly, my friend and I made our way to the address we had been given. It was somewhere on Regeringsgatan. In hindsight, of course, I should’ve known better. An apartment on one of the most popular streets in Stockholm would not offer a room for only 5,000 kronor a month. But how could I have known?

Before moving, we had found the landlord through a Facebook group, and had discussed the rental agreement via e-mail. We received the contract along with high quality pictures of the apartment. Even though we did not expect our rooms to look exactly like that, we believed them to be real. Maybe those pictures were taken when the apartment was first renovated? It was a realistic possibility.

The journey from the airport to the apartment was heavy. We were two students, each carrying luggage for the coming six months.

I remember that the wheels of my big suitcase were broken, and I had to awkwardly carry it through the snow, which did not improve the overall experience. But at least one stereotype immediately proved to be true: people in Sweden were nice. Instead of watching me struggle to carry the suitcase up stairs, people stepped in and gave me a hand.

We walked up Regeringsgatan towards our future apartment. We scanned every passing building, hoping to get closer to the number we were looking for.


After a while, we thought we must have passed it. According to Google Maps, we had reached our destination. Still, we couldn’t see it.

We spread out and walked on opposite sides of the street. We started asking people, wondering if we just needed that extra pair of eyes to find this building. Eventually, the truth slowly dawned on us. We had been scammed. Our dream apartment simply didn't exist.

One person we asked even told us that this was quite common. Why hadn’t I come across it during my research?

We were both exhausted, and looked for the nearest place to sit and eat in before figuring out the next steps. As we were both studying in Austria, we decided it might be easiest and best to go to the Austrian embassy, despite the fact that I am a German citizen.


It was getting dark by the time we arrived at the embassy. You needed a code to enter the building, so we called their number, but the embassy was already closed. Left without any options, we simply waited in front of the building, desperate as we were at that point. About two to three hours later, someone finally came out. We sneaked inside and continued waiting by a heater to warm up our freezing bones.

An employee eventually came downstairs and helped us find a hotel to stay in, close to the embassy and with a discount. I’m still grateful to this day that she decided to help us. She probably could’ve thrown us out instead – but then again, people in Sweden are generally nice.

Once we had sorted out new accommodation we reported the scam to the police who, unfortunately, weren’t able to do much.

We had paid advance deposits of up to €1,000 each, but never got our money back, as often seems to be the case.

It's not clear exactly how common apartment scams are as police don't keep specific records, but in 2021, more than 25,000 suspected scams relating to buy-and-sell ads were reported in Sweden, according to rental newssite Hem & Hyra, around half of them on Facebook.


Here are four things I wish I had known before renting in Stockholm:

- Don't hesitate to ask for help and reach out to people. If you’re moving for work or an internship, ask the company you’ll be working at for help. There might even be someone who knows someone who knows someone (you know the drill) who is renting out a room.

- If you’ve made contact with a potential landlord on the internet, look them up on "". If they’re a registered resident in Sweden, chances are high they can be found there unless they actively asked to be removed. There are other similar sites such as:, and

- Look up in which area of Stockholm the apartment you found is located in. You might want to send the address to your contacts. The people who are already in Stockholm will be able to tell you whether the location, price, and other details of the apartment seem to be realistic. Even if you don’t know anyone yet at the company you’ll be working at, this might be just the perfect reason to reach out.

- If you don’t know anyone at all, look for Facebook groups, such as Living in Sweden, Expatriates in Sweden, Indians in Sweden, Brits in Sweden or Deutsche in Stockholm. Chances are that there is an existing group where people from your home country or other immigrants in Sweden can help.

Jasmin Adolph is a German/Filipino journalist based in Sweden. Follow her on Instagram.


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