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Old 01.10.2015, 00:41
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Is this an elaborate scam?

(Sorry in advance for the long email..!)

So I'm looking for a new apartment and after viewing several I found one in town close to Helvetiaplatz. A woman and her daughter met me and both seemed very pleasant and spoke good English. There are actually 2 apartments available in the building and they showed me both, along with the basement, washing room, etc.

The apartment is only available until end of July next year as they said the owner will renovate them entire building then. The apartment decor is quite old and looks like it hasn't been updated in a couple of decades, and for this reason they're quite cheap compared to other apartments in the area. They actually reduced the asking price during our email discussions by about 300 CHF per month.

So I filled out what looked like a genuine application form with the name of the rental company stamped across top (not sure if I should state the rental company name but it's ***** - Liegenschaftenverwaltung in 8820 Wädenswil). This as a standard form asking civil status, job, income, etc. They also asked for a reference from previous places I lived in Switzerland which I provided. I don't work for a Swiss company so they emailed me and asked to explain more about where I work, which I did.

So after a few days they finally reply to me tonight saying the apartment is mine if I want it, starting from tomorrow (October 1st). Everything seemed legitimate up until that point, but then they said this in the email:

"You can take over the apartment as soon as contract is signed, first month rent and deposit (which is 2 month rent) is transferred. Because time is quite short and the ZKB will take a few days to open your Sparkonto-account, you can transfer the deposit on Mrs. ***** account and she will transfer to you as soon as your account number is known."

This has set alarm bells ringing. I have to move out from where I currently live at the weekend and have nowhere else to go. Another small thing is that they use a bluewin.ch email address instead of a company one.

Maybe it's all genuine but I'm paranoid about being scammed. Does this seem to be a hoax?
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Old 01.10.2015, 00:56
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

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. Because time is quite short and the ZKB will take a few days to open your Sparkonto-account, you can transfer the deposit on Mrs. ***** account and she will transfer to you as soon as your account number is known.*
Back away.

A honest landlord/agency will rent a flat out with the lease starting a week or two later to make sure all contracts (lease, deposit account) are signed by all parties, and the account for the deposit - which is in the tenant's name only [but there's nothing fishy about the landlord/agency applying for/opening the account, as long as it's exclusively in the tenant's name] - has been opened. Then, and only then, should deposit and lease be paid into the corresponding accounts - deposit into tenant's deposit account and rent into andlord's/agency's account.
If you do what they say, you run the risk of having to kiss your money goodbye. Don't do it, wait for the signed contracts and check the Internet for the landlord/agency to make sure they're genuine (if it's a legit agency/company, they should have an entry in zefix).

Quoting myself:
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Either you open a blocked account (Mietkautionskonto) on your own (in your name only) and hand over a copy of proof of opening said account containing the deposit to your prospective landlord,

or the landlord gives you three copies of a (still unsigned) contract for such a (blocked) account (which was opened by the landlord specifically for the purpose of your lease, and which is in your name only!), which you sign (three times, so that both the bank and the landlord have one copy and you have one copy), send all three signed copies back to the landlord and demand a copy signed by both him and the bank back.

In cases where the landlord/agency is kosher, they send along with those three unsigned copies of the bank account contract the two unsigned copies of the lease contract for the flat.
So, when you receive these five unsigned documents (two lease, three bank account), sign all five and only pay rent (to the landlord via his given payslip) and deposit (to the bank via its given payslip) after you have received back one copy of the lease which has now been signed by you and the landlord and one copy of the bank account contract which has been signed by you, the landlord and the bank.


Never pay in cash or pay to the landlord directly (neither rent nor deposit), and never pay the deposit into a bank account which is not exclusively in your name and not blocked.

If you are asked to pay anything before all involved parties (landlord, tenant and, in case of deposit, bank) have signed contracts and you have received copies of said contracts as well as payslips for the payments which go directly into the accounts I specified above, back away. Not only because this is fishy, but also because you should only pay when a basis for said payment (i.e. a contract signed by all parties involved) exists.
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Old 01.10.2015, 02:21
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

Thanks @glowjupiter.

Since my first post the agency woman has emailed me some stuff. First was a pre-filled form for ZKB "Mieterkautionssparkonto" with just my name as the "Mieter". It also has the name and address of the landlord and the agency, and the amount of 2 month's rent is also pre-filled.

She also sent a pre-filled copy of the contract with all the details and stating the rental and deposit amount.

The last thing she included was an image of an "Einzahlung Giro" which is a payment form that are attached to bills. This is pre-filled with the landlord's name, address, and account number.

Here's what she stated in the email:

"Attached and for your info you find contract and application form for deposit account with Zürcher Kantonalbank. This form has to be the original with original signatures (no copies or scanns) and a deposit slip.

As soon as first rent and deposit is transfered to Mrs. *****'s account I can hand over the keys. If you agree with the contract attached and you would transfer tomorrow, we could meet on Friday and handle everything together, (sign contract and ZKB form and I can give you the keys also on Friday.) (Of course as soon as the number of account is known, Mrs. ***** will transfer the deposit on your "Mieterkautionssparkonto".
-Or we meet tomorrow and later for the keys."


So I'm planning to meet her tomorrow and say yes I'l take the apartment but I'm not happy paying directly to the landlady, and I want to wait until the Sparkonto is set up correctly at which point I'll pay the deposit into that.

If this is a hoax then it's pretty elaborate
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Old 01.10.2015, 02:33
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

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So I'm planning to meet her tomorrow and say yes I'l take the apartment but I'm not happy paying directly to the landlady, and I want to wait until the Sparkonto is set up correctly at which point I'll pay the deposit into that.
If you trust her to act on her word, you can do this.
I would not recommend taking the flat though.
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Old 01.10.2015, 07:53
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

You can try SwissCaution. It is an insurance option. You pay a yearly fee. But then you don't block any funds. Of course this is an additional expense. You don't get the money back as you would with a deposit.

The good thing about this option is that it is all set up within 24hrs and if you are afraid it's a scam, you won't lose money.

I can't comment on if it's a scam or not, but any professional rental agency will understand your hesitation to pay the owner directly.

Whatever you decide don't pay your deposit to the landlord's account. If you prefer giving a deposit instead of using the insurance then tell them you will take the apartment only from the 15th and only after everything is done 'correctly'.
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Old 01.10.2015, 08:07
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

What's the name of the rental company in Waedenswil? You're not being defamatory in your posts so why not name it?
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Old 01.10.2015, 08:16
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

Could you pop into the local police station & ask if they have anything known on the person just in case? They can easily run a check on her to make sure she's local.
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Old 01.10.2015, 09:18
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

It takes minutes to open a Sparkonto. My last landlord sent his daughter to open mine while we were signing the paperwork and was back by the time we'd finished.

Being physically present to show you around doesn't fit the normal scammer behaviour, but it's odd that she thinks she can't open the account in time.
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Old 01.10.2015, 09:36
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

Both of you go to a ZKB branch and the rent deposit account can be opened there and then in your/her name.

Swiss caution is good if you don't want to block funds, but if they pay out at the end, you pay them back, with admin fees of course.....It's useful, but certainly not always the best option.

Dosen't look a scam or if it is it's very elaaborate, maybe check the name of the rental company, if it's an AG (SA) or a GmbH (Sàrl), you should be able to check on www.zefix.ch

The police.........not their problem until a fraud has been committed and even then it's a civil affair rather then criminal until fraud has been proved.
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Old 01.10.2015, 09:46
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

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The police.........not their problem until a fraud has been committed and even then it's a civil affair rather then criminal until fraud has been proved.
A fraud is a civil affair until it's been proved?
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Old 01.10.2015, 10:13
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

Get CHF 900 in cash and go to the agency in Wädenswil in person.
Is it Tuwag?
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Old 01.10.2015, 10:19
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

As Mirfield says, tell her to accompany you to the bank and get the account opened on the spot. It will be in your name, kind of, but the landlord is also named (otherwise you could just take the money out and close the account before doing a runner).
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Old 01.10.2015, 10:29
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

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What's the name of the rental company in Waedenswil? You're not being defamatory in your posts so why not name it?
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Get CHF 900 in cash and go to the agency in Wädenswil in person.
Is it Tuwag?
Ok thanks, the agency is called Gharbi Liegenschaftenverwaltung, Buechenrain 7, 8820 Wädenswil.

I asked for her contact number earlier and she just sent it to me, and I'm meeting her at 12.30 today. I'm going to suggest that she comes with me to ZKB and we open the account on the spot.
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Old 01.10.2015, 10:36
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

It sounds like all she is saying is that you have to sign the contract and pay before you move in, and if these are not in place, don't move in, then offered an optional way for you to make sure it happens, that's all. You can always say you would rather do it a different way.

So where is that apartment? Because if you don't want it, I know someone who would.
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Old 01.10.2015, 10:47
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

Did they get your details, job references, extract from the debt registry? a genuine landlord would be concerned about your financial status, a scammer less so.

I don't think any reputable landlord would mind waiting the two days it takes to open the deposit account.
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Old 01.10.2015, 10:55
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

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Did they get your details, job references, extract from the debt registry? a genuine landlord would be concerned about your financial status, a scammer less so.
She didn't ask for the debt registry extract, she said something about it only going back 2 years and it's not really reliable.

She did look for a reference from the Immobilien where I lived for 3 years in the past, that was what she wanted the most so I got that for her. She also searched for the company I work for but couldn't find it as it's not Swiss, so she asked me for more details about that also.
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Old 01.10.2015, 11:01
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

I think it's Ok to post the company name. Otherwise search for them online, see what you find.

What I would do is call Wädenswil Gemeinde and ask if that company is known, and what they can tell about them. Since they probably can't give you much detail (due to data protection laws) the tone is just as important as the actual reply. I'd also ask the person you speak to, if s/he was in your situation, would s/he be perfectly comfortable to go ahead and rent? Comfortable to pay the two months amount to the agency instead of one into the Kautionskonto?

The landlord is registered in the Grundbuch (of Zürich city in this case). Since you have a reasonable interest you can probably ask for an excerpt from Zürich city (Grundbuchamt, find the one responsible here). This usually costs something below 50CHF, perhaps just 5 or 10CHF.

Another possibility is to ask the other renters who they pay to. Or ask the agency for the address of your predecessor.

You may well be over-careful. OTOH better safe than sorry, understandable.
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Old 01.10.2015, 11:03
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

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It sounds like all she is saying is that you have to sign the contract and pay before you move in, and if these are not in place, don't move in, then offered an optional way for you to make sure it happens, that's all.
If it were, they shouldn't have a problem with

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I don't think any reputable landlord would mind waiting the two days it takes to open the deposit account.
So I'd say it depends on what she says upon meeting the OP today.

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As Mirfield says, tell her to accompany you to the bank and get the account opened on the spot. It will be in your name, kind of, but the landlord is also named (otherwise you could just take the money out and close the account before doing a runner).
It is in the tenant's name only, giving the landlord a right to take money out only if the tenant agrees to this or a court/arbitration office rule that the landlord shall have (some of) the money.

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I think it's Ok to post the company name. Otherwise search for them online, see what you find.

What I would do is call Wädenswil Gemeinde and ask if that company is known, and what they can tell about them.
Landlord's being in the city's land register is no proof of his having a rental company, it's just proof of his owning property. OP should call thus Wädi commune this morning before meeting the lady and ask for proof that the company is legit since you might be entering a lease with them. Agreed, better safe than sorry.

Last edited by glowjupiter; 01.10.2015 at 11:15.
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Old 01.10.2015, 11:17
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

Ok so I replied to her this morning saying "Maybe we can go to ZKB and open the Sparkonto account together."

This is what she replied just now:

"
I know, that's what one would think to be possible, and I really don't know why the Banks don't do it like this. I also cannot understand why it takes them so Long to open an account. I have the fulfilled form with me and you can try directly with the bank maybe you are more lucky than me. Because they do only need the original signature from both of us on the form and they start the process - but as said it takes them some time but you might be able to Speed them up :-)"
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Old 01.10.2015, 11:18
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Re: Is this an elaborate scam?

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Landlord's being in the city's land register is no proof of his having a rental company, it's just proof of his owning property. OP should call thus Wädi commune this morning before meeting the lady and ask for proof that the company is legit since you might be entering a lease with them. Agreed, better safe than sorry.
Of course not. But you may be able to contact him and verify if that agency is indeed in charge.

Edit:
The fact alone that they have the keys to the two apartments imho is very strong indication that they are not scammers.
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