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Expat Alert: Navigating Stockholm’s Real Estate Scam Pitfalls

Unraveling a Stockholm Real Estate Scam

We all have that friend who seems to have the worst luck. For me, it’s a mate who was scammed when moving to Stockholm, Sweden, in March 2018 for an internship. Here’s his cautionary tale about how he ended up paying for an apartment that didn’t exist.

Swap Snow Boots for Detective Shoes

My friend and his colleague touched down in Stockholm’s snow-covered landscape, their bags filled with dreams of Scandinavian adventures and six months’ worth of stuff. Little did they know, an ugly surprise awaited them on Regeringsgatan, arguably one of Stockholm’s most popular streets.

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Using a Facebook group, they thought they’d found the perfect rental deal for an apartment. The landlords were responsive, the rental contract seemed legitimate, and the high-quality pictures sold them the dream. Or so they thought!

Imagine drenched in sweat, dragging a heavy suitcase on the snowy Stockholm streets to an address that Google Maps insisted was there. But turn after turn, there was no apartment in sight.

Reality Or Swede Dream?

“An apartment on Regeringsgatan for 5,000 kronor per month…too good to be true, right?”

After retracing steps, asking locals, and a growing sense of dread, they realized they’d fallen victim to a scam. And how heartbreakingly common it is! A local even admitted to them the frequency of such scams. Exhausted and reeling from the blow, they sought refuge in the nearest restaurant to regroup and plan their next move.

Salvation at the Embassy

With their dreams of a cozy apartment in smolders, the Austrian Embassy was the next best option. But as luck struck again, it was closed. Undeterred, the pair waited outside, until they could sneak in when someone left the building two to three hours later.

“People in Sweden are nice. A stereotype that came true.”

A kind-hearted embassy employee helped them find a temporary hotel stay and provided the solace they needed in their moment of despair. They reported the incident to the police, but unfortunately, their €1,000 deposits seemed to be lost forever.

How Common Are Scams in Sweden?

While data specific to rentals scams are elusive, 25,000+ scams relating to buy-and-sell ads were reported in Sweden in 2021, half of which were on Facebook, as per Hem & Hyra news platform.

Tips for Safe Renting in Stockholm

We’ve all heard of, “Learn from your mistakes”. In this case, it’s better to learn from someone else’s. Here’s what my friend wished they’d known before the adventure-turned-ordeal:

– Seek assistance from your upcoming employer. Utilize their local knowledge and networking potential.
– Scrutinize potential landlords on Swedish residents’ databases: hitta.se, merinfo.se, eniro.se, and ratsit.se.
– Share property details with local connections who can verify if the prices, location, and apartment details are realistic.
– Connect with expats group in Facebook, like Living in Sweden or Deutsche in Stockholm where seasoned expats can offer invaluable advice.

Soon enough, my friend found a better place in Stockholm, but the lesson he learned the hard way may save you from falling in the same trap. Stay savvy, my expat friends!

Written by Jasmin Adolph, a Germany/Philippines-originated journalist based in Sweden. Find her on Instagram.

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