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Author Topic: [localbitcoins.com] Beware of criminals using honest sellers to wash their money  (Read 71 times)
davibicudo
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September 01, 2017, 07:37:36 AM
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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.
Besides, what happened to me was just an example, but it could be generalised to other cases outside of the apartment rental business.

I received an email from the public prosecutor's office from the canton of St. Gallen (Switzerland) that my name and bank account was related to what was 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 all over the world. 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
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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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