Police in Western Uusimaa have uncovered a string of online fraud cases in which a man offered to rent holiday homes and camper vans that did not exist.
The man has admitted hiring out fictitious holiday sites through sites such as Tori.fi last year.
The suspect rented out cottages in holiday areas around Finland, including Tahko, Levi, Katinkulta (Vuokatti) and Kuusamo.
Before getting into the business of letting out imaginary cabins, the man had pulled similar scams with mobile homes.
“The man did not place his own online ads for cabins, but instead responded to posts by people who were looking for places to rent,” says Detective Inspector Katja Rekola of the Western Uusimaa Police, who is leading the investigation.
16 fake names
The man took reservation fees from 54 victims. He then vanished and could no longer be reached. The man collected about 15,000 euros in this manner.
“He appeared online using 16 different names, so it was difficult for the would-be renters to find any information about him online. He was not however guilty of identity theft, though,” said Rekola.
The man confessed to the fraud when interrogated. He admitted that he did not in fact have any of the products he was selling, and that he as motivated by financial gain.
Authorities had a warrant out for his detention for nearly half a year before he was caught. The case will be handed over to a prosecutor within the next few days.
Meanwhile police in the south-central city of Tampere are investigating another string of scams allegedly carried out by the same person, which took place more recently. With foreign travel sharply restricted this year, people in Finland have been hiring holiday homes within the country at a record pace.