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Author Topic: Internetbetrug Wohnungskaution in localbitcoins.com  (Read 657 times)
davibicudo
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September 01, 2017, 07:20:48 AM
 #1

I'll write it in english in order to explain it properly. Maybe it isn't a new scam but since I didn't knew about it and it almost happened to me I'd like to share.

I received an email from the Staatsanwaltschaft from the canton of St. Gallen that my name and bank account was related to what was a likely an attempt to steal money from people interested in renting an apartment in Zürich. it's very difficult to rent there due to high demand, so there are some too-good-to-be-true announcements that asks for money in advance from people. This probably also happens in large cities in Germany and Austria. The criminals don't want to put their own bank info there since they would be tracked, so they try to use honest localbitcoins.com sellers to try to wash the money for them. This is how it works:

1) Post a nice apartment for a great price (but not too unbelievable, just quite above average). These listings probably receive hundreds of emails.
2) For each potential victim, create an account at localbitcoins.com using the victim's name.
3) Use these accounts to buy BTC in the exact amount as the requested deposit, then send the seller's bank info and ref code to the victim.
4) The victim transfers the money to the seller, who then releases the BTC to the criminal.
Consequences: a naive victim losing their money, an honest (and probably also naive) seller who could receive a very unpleasant phone call from the police (and maybe a lot of more headache) and a happy criminal enjoying his recently stolen money.

Have a look at the email one not-so-stupid potential victim sent me while we were trying to figure out what happened:
-------
Hi [Victim's name],
 
Thanks for the reply.
 
I have included my Lawyers bank account below, He is going to prepare the payment receipt for you once he confirms the payment which shouldn't take more than 1-2 days.
 
The payment shouldn't take more than a day or two to reflect in his account if transferred early today.
 
Method: [Bank's name]
Account Holder: [My name]
IBAN: [acc. no]
Reference/message: [code provided by localbitcoins.com]
Amount: 1400.00 CHF
 
PLEASE NOTE: - Please kindly include the Reference/message:  XXXXXX. So my Lawyer can know its from my tenant. This is your assigned reference for further payment.
 
Once you have made the transfer, all you need is to send me the payment transfer confirmation or slip. This is needed for his records on my property and my Lawyer will write you an email confirming you as my tenant who will be in care of the apartment.
 
Thanks
Dan
------

That's it, so take care guys. Especially if you want to make sure no one is being stolen while you are helping some criminal wash his dirty money. So just do the proper checking before releasing your bitcoins.
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eternalsoul
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September 07, 2017, 08:41:33 AM
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Not so stupid, this scam - much easier than the similar triangle-scam in online marketplaces. The thief definitvely stays anonymous.
The question is more, what happens if someone falls for a scam and sends money via SEPA - can he get it back?

1) the receiver could be taken to trial, if he is the scammer. Then the chances are good.

2) if the receiver is an innocent guy who sent away his bitcoins, then there was no contract between the sender and the receiver. But sent is sent - and as the receiver is not the scammer, he did not perform anything illegal. I would say, the sender is then the unlucky one. Otherwise anybody could request sent money back easily.

In Germany localbitcoins.com is blocked, therefore no risk here. But probably also possible via decentralized exchange Bisq?
boerthwi
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September 09, 2017, 09:38:37 AM
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Not so stupid, this scam - much easier than the similar triangle-scam in online marketplaces. The thief definitvely stays anonymous.
The question is more, what happens if someone falls for a scam and sends money via SEPA - can he get it back?

1) the receiver could be taken to trial, if he is the scammer. Then the chances are good.

2) if the receiver is an innocent guy who sent away his bitcoins, then there was no contract between the sender and the receiver. But sent is sent - and as the receiver is not the scammer, he did not perform anything illegal. I would say, the sender is then the unlucky one. Otherwise anybody could request sent money back easily.

In Germany localbitcoins.com is blocked, therefore no risk here. But probably also possible via decentralized exchange Bisq?

Disagree - localbitcoins is accessable in Germany (just tested it).

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eternalsoul
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October 09, 2017, 06:41:59 PM
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But can you offer any trades with it for German soil?
Chefin
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October 10, 2017, 09:31:37 AM
 #5

well, whats new on this case?

Nothing

Its just another methode. Bitcoin means: you are responsable for everything and need to know each trick that can happen. Therefor we used Bank to prevent fraud. But of cource, they are no angels, so we try to take our money in the own hand again.

But this also mean: you have to look deeper, knowing your customer. Localbitcoin is the opposit of that. To trade face to face without knowing anything is a risk. And for me, i would judge the one who helped to wash the money, as if he would do the crime, no differenz. Because this fraud would no be possible if not someone is helping.

Of cource, for you its bad, and maybe you are not aware of that risk. Ok..accepted, but keep in mind for the future.
bct_ail
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October 10, 2017, 11:21:02 AM
 #6

I didn’t read your whole post, cause I have stopped reading here:
I received an email from the Staatsanwaltschaft from the canton of St. Gallen

Well, if I get an email from the Staatsanwalt I don’t open it because I know they wouldn’t write an email. They would write an old school letter.

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