French nuns and priests targeted by ‘thieving duo’

A couple in the southern French city of Toulon have been arrested for allegedly robbing retired nuns and priests whose addresses they obtained from a church directory.

French nuns and priests targeted by 'thieving duo'
The couple's victims were all retired priests and nuns. Nun photo: Shutterstock

The criminal duo, identified as an Italian man and a French woman, were caught in the act on Saturday as they tried to rob one of their ten or so known victims, who were all retired priests and nuns, RTL radio reported.

According to a judicial source, the couple obtained their home addresses from a directory listing the clergy members in the Var department of southern France.

The man, aged 22, would pretend that he wanted to make a donation before robbing the victims who'd taken out their wallets to receive the gift, the source said. 

The couple, who were taken into custody after questioning on the weekend, now face charges of gang robbery.

During the questioning the couple were also found to be carrying several thousands of euros in cash.

Around ten such robberies have been reported in Var over a period of several weeks and 15 outside the department, RTL said.

In another case of a shocking class of victims in France, The Local reported earlier this month how thieves targeted the home of a family that was killed in the Air Algérie plane crash this summer, just hours after the accident.

And last year a French sportsman who became the first quadruple-amputee to swim across the English Channel was left "sad and angry" after his custom-designed wheelchair was stolen by thieves.   

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Hackers post French hospital patient data online

Hackers who crippled a French hospital and stole a trove of data last month have released personal records of patients online, officials have confirmed.

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

The cyberattackers demanded a multimillion dollar ransom from the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital near Paris a month ago, but the institution refused to pay.

The hospital said the hackers had now dumped medical scans and lab analyses along with the social security numbers of patients.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the unspeakable disclosure of hacked data,” health minister Fran├žois Braun tweeted on Sunday.

Hospitals around the world have been facing increasing attacks from ransomware groups, particularly since the pandemic stretched resources to breaking point.

The problem has been acute in France, where officials estimated early last year that healthcare institutions were facing on average an attack every week.

President Emmanuel Macron last year called the attacks during the pandemic a “crisis within a crisis” and announced an extra one billion euros for cybersecurity.

During last month’s attack, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital shut down its emergency services and sent many patients to other institutions.

At one point, officials said the only technology still working was the telephone.

Rather than selling the trove of data, the hacker has dumped at least some of it for download on the “dark web” — a hidden part of the internet that requires special software to access.

Analysts said it seemed to be a tactic to put pressure on the hospital, even though public institutions are banned by French law from paying ransoms.

Cybersecurity researcher Damien Bancal, who revealed the leak and has seen the files, told AFP the worry is that other criminals will now launch scams with the data that has already been divulged.

In response to the leak on the weekend, the hospital severely restricted access to its systems and told patients to be extremely vigilant when receiving emails, text messages or phone calls.