Munich. People under fictitious names have been advertising apartments that do not exist on some websites, including luxury apartments at bargain prices.
Lena Göttmann (presumably a fictitious name) is renting a 2'bedroom Apartment, 80 square meters, furnished, in the Isarvorstadt area for an incredible 600 euros. She preferred to be contacted only by email. As a response she sends a few lines saying that unfortunately you can not personally view the apartment. But they have a solution; for a 600 euro deposit, they would send you the key, so that you can take a look at the flat yourself.
The TZ newspaper has looked at the house for rent and the apartment was great. It is a commercial building in downtown Munich. Lawyers, accountants and a bank were all settled there. About the apartment for rent, not one of business people knew anything. Lena Göttmann was not known there either.
Many house hunters were conned in this way. They have trasffered several hundred euros to a foreign bank account in the hope that they would get their dream home. The dream bursted usually after the transfer, as the alleged owner no longer exists. Their emails were left without answer.
The Bavarian consumer advice centre warns "Do not pay an advance payment, the money cannot be returned" said lawyer Tatyana Halm. "It is not usual to receive an apartment key for a first viewing in exchange for the deposit."
It is fairly easy to detect the fraud: the "owner" advertises flats on the Internet in expensive districts - at an unbeatable price. The contact is made only by email. The fraudsters claim to be on business abroad, usually it is the United Kingdom. They are offering to send the house keys against the deposit. Those interested, however, see neither the key to the fictional home nor do they get their money back.