Protection from con artists

woman withdrawing money from the ATM

April 22, 2021

There’s been an incline of con artists in recent years. That’s why protection from con artists is a must nowadays. One of the more known scams is the home scam. You will see ads for an amazing flat or house, offering many luxuries inside, but with the cost remaining quite reasonable. Too reasonable, in fact. Police advise being careful if the offer seems too good to be true, and also ask for contact details of the person you’re dealing with. Also, never pay before visiting, pay the amount only to a bank account, not via a money transfer company. The other common scam is charitable acts that end up stealing from the ones that require help. 

Want to learn more? Keep reading the article.

In recent years, Switzerland, and particularly the cantons of Vaud and Geneva, have had to deal with an increase in the number of cases of theft by trickery.

To combat this scourge, there is only one solution: to warn the population and inform them of the dangers that await them. The cantonal police forces and Swiss Crime Prevention are therefore endeavoring to disseminate advice in line with current crime.

Here are two examples of what you need to know to avoid becoming easy prey.

A home too good to be true…

Among the scams that have been reported in our regions in recent months and weeks, the housing scam deserves to be mentioned. It all starts with an advertisement published on various specialized websites. Unreal advertisements, offering superb accommodation, very well located at a reasonable price. Photos of these luxury flats are used to lure potential victims.

The rest of the scenario is classic: during the first contact, the so-called owner or his official representative explains to you that the property is unoccupied, available immediately, but that he will not be able to be present for the visit because of a business trip. They ask you to send them a copy of your identity card, proof of income, and a series of other personal details by return e-mail. It is also common for these scammers to mention the name of a third party, such as a business agent or rental company, who will handle the formalities in their absence.

You will then be asked to make a payment through a money transfer company (in most cases this is Western Union), explaining that they will send you the keys to the property as soon as they receive the money.

Police advice:

  • Be careful if the offer seems too tempting.
  • Ask for the contact details of the person you are dealing with (business address and that of their representative, telephone numbers, etc.) and check them.
  • Never pay anything before visiting the flat you are going to rent.
  • Do not pay money through a money transfer company, but ask for a bank account number.

Beware of false guardian angels!

Since 2013, Roma criminals have been posing as charitable souls who want to help the elderly, only to rob them after gaining their trust. Extreme caution is required and it is strongly recommended to inform the police quickly in case of doubt.

Taking advantage of the vulnerability and naivety of their targets, these offenders make contact under false pretences or under the pretext of altruism. After establishing a relationship of trust, they divert the attention of their victims to dispossess them. They may also follow people who have made cash withdrawals into their homes and then attempt to break into the home to steal money, jewellery and other valuables. The attacks take place mostly during the day, mostly in urban areas. The thieves prefer shopping centres, post offices and banks. In some cases, they help people to carry a shopping bag, even going so far as to accompany the grandmother in the lift and abuse her trust. Sometimes they use violence.

Police advice:

  • Don’t get involved in unusual approaches in your daily travels.
  • Only withdraw money inside a post office or bank, be discreet when entering your code, take time to put your money away before leaving, and avoid withdrawing large sums.
  • Leave the post office or bank at a brisk pace and do not allow yourself to be distracted by strangers, look straight ahead and do not respond to any solicitations, do not stop.
  • If you feel exposed, take a trusted person with you to make payments or withdrawals.
  • For older people: arrange for neighbours to make payments or withdrawals, or even commissions.
  • Lock the front door of your home, even when you are inside.

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