We are far from the usual tricks used for renting holiday homes: an Italian scammer has just set the bar! He pretended to be an intermediary in order to propose to an investor the sale of a superb imaginary home in a building of high standing in the Principality. Though, for a real fee. Unmasked, the suspect has appeared before the criminal court. He was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment and will have to pay € 157,000 to the civil party.
A deposit of 150,000 Euros
Who has never dreamed of residing in a four-bedroom apartment of 120 m2 on the seventh floor of the Monte Carlo Star?
And for the price of one million euros, defying all competition? An Italian resident, attracted by the idea of settling in this privileged location between the terraces of the Casino and the sea, signed a contract on 5 June, 2012. Pleased and eager to complete the transaction, he paid a deposit of 150,000 Euros without having visited the apartment. The agreement concluded, the handing-over of the keys was scheduled for June 2013. But, the buyer quickly began to feel some anxiety. The intermediary, an entrepreneur from the Turin region, became unreachable and the money from the deposit disappeared. The victim made inquiries and noticed that no dwelling was meant to be sold in the building. The victim demanded the cancellation of the contract with the return of the sum paid in May 2014. Promises and silence were his only answers. He filed a complaint.
“What has become of money?” asked Judge Jérôme Fougeras-Lavergnolle.
“One part was for me and the other for the businessman,” said the defendant. “I retained 63,000 € because I served as negotiator for the sale!”
The magistrate: “But you knew that this apartment did not exist.”
The guilty party confessed, “I soon realised that it was a scam. I found myself in an extraordinary situation. I was mandated to carry out the operation. Without knowing the owner and without any document. So I looked the other way. But this four-room apartment exists. It was sold for between 7 and 8 million euros. For my part, I pledge to reimburse the victim.”
“The price of a small studio”
The civil party, represented at the hearing by Hervé Campana, expected no less, and will advance the sum of 172,000 € with damages.
“One million Euros? It is the price of a small studio at the Condamine,” announces the prosecutor Cyrielle Colleauat the start of his indictment. “There is no evidence in this case that the accused had a warrant from the owner. The sale does not exist! The building does not exist! It is indeed a scam and the sum of € 150,000 has never been returned.”
The penalty claimed? Eight months imprisonment with trial and obligation to compensate the victim. Ultimately, the court will be less severe than the Crown.
Luckily, despite the cunning attempts of criminals, the perpetrators of these three particular criminal cases have ultimately found justice in Monaco.
Originally published by Olga Taran at Hello Monaco