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Rip-deal Fraudsters trick art dealer out of CHF500,000

A hand, holding keys, opens a vault door

The switch took place in a Swiss bank vault under the eyes of the dealer and bank staff

(Keystone)

A Swiss art dealer has revealed how he was conned out of half a million francs by a Romanian criminal gang operating a classic ‘rip-deal’. One of the gang was caught and is due to soon appear before a Basel court.

The dealer, who does not want to be named, told the Schweiz am Wochenende newspaper how the gang, posing as agents for a wealthy art buyer, agreed a CHF3.5 million ($3.6 million) sale in exchange for a CHF500,000 commission.

One of the gang members insisted on seeing the commission in cash as surety and was taken to the dealer’s Swiss bank. There, the criminal switched the cash for envelopes stuffed with torn paper and was able to get away before the scam was discovered.

“If this was a test for criminal activity I would have to admit that the perpetrators passed with flying colors,” the conned dealer told the newspaper. Police finally caught up with the criminal who made the bank switch, but the unnamed dealer does not expect to get any money back as it has probably been sent to Romania already.

The Schweiz am Wochenende, quoting Swiss federal police statistics, wrote that rip-dealexternal link frauds are becoming more professional and successful at conning people. The number of recorded incidents in Switzerland rose from 14 in 2015 to 22 in 2016. The amount of money raised from the criminal activity doubled to around CHF10 million over the same two years.

swissinfo.ch/mga with agencies

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