Rental Apartment Con Artist At Large - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Rental Apartment Con Artist At Large

Published March 3, 2016

Photos by
Art Bicnick

Grapevine has received a copy of an email from a con artist who has been trying to scam would-be renters out of money.

Stundin reports that a man using the name Christian Turner has been advertising apartments in the greater Reykjavík area that he does not actually own. In this instance, he told a prospective renter that he lived in Austria with his family, owned the apartment but would not be returning to Iceland. Promising to send a contract and keys to the place, he requested a money transfer through AirBnB.

When the prospective renter received an email purporting to be from AirBnB, however, closer examination revealed it to be a fake. He has since refused to respond to emails, and AirBnB have confirmed that they do not set up payment services of the kind “Christian Turner” attempted to arrange.

The Stundin story caught the attention of a source close to Grapevine, as she had encountered a strikingly similar scam in 2013 – right down to the names of the members of “Christian’s” family, only using the name “Martin Bech”, and reportedly living in the UK. She told Grapevine that she reported the matter to the police, but has yet to receive any kind of update regarding investigations.

The email, in whole, can be read below. We provide this as a public service to our readers, so that they may look out for similar scams from the same person.

Hello,

I just read your e-mail regarding my apartment located in : 17 Meistaravellir, 107 Reykjavik. It has 2 bedrooms, 1 living room, 1 bathrooms and 1 kitchen. I bought this apartment for my daughter during her studies in Iceland, but now she’s back home permanently, so I’m renting the place for unlimited time.
Before we go any further I would like to know a little something about you, like how many persons you intend to live in the apartment, and for how long.
The flat is exactly like in the pictures, fully furnished and renovated. Also, very important, the utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV, 1 parking spots, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are INCLUDED in the price of 99500ISK/month. As for me, you can rest assured that I will never ask you to leave the apartment. My daughter is building her life here, and i am too old to move to Iceland, so we won’t disturb you.
You can use my furniture, or you can also use your own if you prefer. If you decide to use yours, you will have access to a very large and well ventilated cellar, where you can store my furniture.
Now, a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other better. My name is Martin Bech and I’m a 58 years old graphic designer from London /United Kingdom, planning to retire in the next 2 years.
I have a lovely wife,Sarah and a 25 year old daughter, Maria. I am very proud to say that soon I’m going to be a grandfather :). Another member of our family is a 8 year old Labrador which we all love, so, I have no problem if you will keep pets.
The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave London even for one single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training.
But this won’t affect you at all. I can make arrangements to rent the apartment from London (on my expense of course).

Looking forward to hear from you soon.

All the best from United Kingdom!

Martin Bech
[Address redacted]

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