The Police Says: “It is Your Responsibility”News
Housing fraud is becoming more and more common. Now the police are criticized by the students affected, saying that the police are letting the fraud continue longer than necessary.
The police, on the other hand, argue that the affected person is partially responsible and he or she has to take precautions not to be set up.
It was during last summer Rachelle Lacharité, today communications manager at AF, Akademiska föreningen, responded to an ad about an apartment in Malmö. She visited the apartment several times with the landlord and ascertained that everything was alright.
A contract was signed, and, to be on the safe side, Rachelle Lacharité also made contact with the residents’ association. When she asked them about the upfront payment on the rent, 31 000 SEK, they told her that “this is how it is to be an adult”. The day before she was about to move in she received an e-mail from the landlord informing her that he was in Germany and that they had to postpone her moving in.
– At that moment I started to think the whole thing was weird.
Was Already under Fraud Suspicion
The police was contacted and then Rachelle Lacharité learned that the landlord already was suspected of several similar frauds. After the case with Rachelle Lacharité the landlord had received upfront payment for another apartment which he never indented to lease.
– I’ve got a feeling that they could have stopped this. He had made the same scam several times before and still he was allowed to continue, Rachelle Lacharité says, and she is very displeased with how the police has dealt with the case.
– From the very beginning I understood that this would take some time, but the way the police have communicated with us has been extremely bad, says Rachelle Lacharité.
Later this fall, in October, the district court will try the case.
Own Responsibility to Check the Seller
The police fraud squad in Malmö do not acknowledge their responsibility, and says that they actually are unable to stop someone from continuing doing fraud until they are convicted. Barely even then.
– We can’t just lock people up. We live in a society governed by law and this is the downside so to speak. However, I don’t think that any of us would like to have it the other way around, says Hans Runge who’s the head of the police fraud squad in Malmö.
He understands the bad feelings you get being scammed, but points out that it is the responsibility of the affected person to avoid this kind of fraud.
– You can’t be too gullible. You have a responsibility to check things out.
Difficult to Get Your Money Back
The chance for the plaintiff to get his or her money back after a finished trial doesn’t exist according to Runge.
– They will not get their money back, the chances are very small. In most cases the scammers are in serious debt and the money long gone.
Suing a heavily indebted scammer is also very difficult.
– This is the hard reality.
Text: Tor Gasslander
Photo: Jens Hunt
Translation: Lars Jansson
Read more: Fraud rampant among housing applicants