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Identity fraud in France: Tourists inundated with speeding tickets after renting car

A tourist who rented a car during a holiday in France with his wife last year was the victim of ID fraud and since returning home has been continuously receiving speeding and parking tickets from the French government. And he's not the only victim of the scam.

Identity fraud in France: Tourists inundated with speeding tickets after renting car
Photo: AFP

The couple, who visited France for around two weeks in October last year, have received 17 speeding and parking fines from French authorities since returning to their home in Sweden. 

All of these fines are related to private cars the couple have not used at times when they were not in the country.

During their stay in France they initially rented a vehicle from Enterprise Rent-A-Car at Paris Beauvais airport to the north of the French capital, however after the car broke down it was replaced by a different one at the Enterprise branch in the French city of Rouen in Normandy. 

Nevertheless, the couple believes the data breach occurred in Beauvais due to the fact that several fines sent to them by French authorities are for driving offences near the town.

The rentals were made under her husband's name Damir Mujkic using his driving licence which had been issued in Finland when the couple used to live there. 

Photo: AFP

The fines, issued by the government agency that doles out speeding and parking tickets ANTAI, were all addressed to random addresses in Finland, including in Helsinki. 

“The perpetrators don't have our address but use some dummy address in Finland when they enter my husband's details, so all fines go to some random addresses in Finland,” the driver's wife Pia Mujkic told The Local.

However the fines do feature Mujkic's correct Finnish identity number, which appears on his licence. 

With this number the Finnish postal service has been able to redirect the fines, which started arriving about one month after the couple returned home, to their current address in Sweden. 

The couple actually received one genuine speeding ticket from ANTAI at the end of November which arrived at their home address and which they quickly settled.

However since then 17 fines have arrived adding up to around 2,000 euros, according to the couple who said that they received the most recent fine two weeks ago and say it's probable that more could come. 

“Some of them are for people doing 100km/h in a 60 km/h zone and around four or five are under the same name,” said Pia. 

While the French police are looking into a couple of the fines, the pair believe the case would benefit from an investigation into all of the fines together. 

“Yesterday we received our first reply concerning two fines that have now been forwarded to a local police office in Bobigny,” Pia said. “But if several officers will investigate the cases separately, they might not see the big picture.”

The Local contacted Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Beauvais, who said they are looking into the case, as well as the government agency ANTAI who have yet to respond. 

A quick search on Twitter shows that the Mujkics are not the only couple to have received mysterious fines from ANTAI in France. 

In September 2018, someone going by the name of @DaleGribble13 tweeted the following to the French police: “Hello, I live in Canada and I got a French ANTAI ticket in the mail for driving with a cellphone. I have never been to France before, I suspect identity theft. Can you please help me?”

 

 

But identity fraud is common in France and drivers are regularly handed fines for driving offences they did not commit.
 
Back in 2012, Philippe Leroux appeared in court for an offense he had not committed.
 
“I am being sued for a parking offense committed in Paris in April, when I bought my car in Nantes in June,” he told the press at the time. “I gave all the evidence: act of purchase, invoices, certificate of the dealer … So why am I in court?”
 
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can follow the steps detailed on the ANTAI site in English.
 
To appeal against an offence notice or an increased fixed fine, you must formulate an Exemption Request or appeal to the Prosecutions Officer (OMP) either online or by post.
 
Depending on your situation you have between 45 days and three months to appeal. 

Member comments

  1. I am sorry, but for legal reasons relating to my comments below, I cannot use my real name.

    Regarding your article: Identity fraud in France: Tourists inundated with speeding tickets after renting car.
    We are Australian and recently suffered theft of many euros by fraud when booking a vacation rental apartment in France. We notified our French bank, which promised to investigate but never did. We notified the French police by submitting an online formal complaint and then confirmed this by providing a full statement at a French police station. They also promised an investigation but suggested it would not lead to a conviction or recovery of our money. We lodged a written complaint with the (well-known) French property rental company that had advertised the property on their online bookings platform. We demanded full compensation to the amount defrauded as they had failed to keep their online booking platform secure and therefore (without knowing) allowed a criminal to pretend that he was the apartment owner. We did not threaten adverse publicity but were very firm that they had failed in their duty to protect us, their customer. After an investigation of 2 months, they denied any responsibility but paid us an amount equivalent to the amount that we had paid the scammer.

    My point is this: The couple in this article must obviously try to counter each speeding fine, however at the same time, they should lodge a formal complaint with Europcar about their failure to protect their data. They should demand that Europcar compensate them for their financial losses, both those already suffered and potential future fines. This is my opinion and advice of course.

  2. Boy you were very lucky to receive a refund from your rental company but I expect you know this. From my experience can be very “third world” in its judicial system. I have heard Judges say in open court “if you are not happy go back home”! I have found it biased towards foreigners even in blatant cases of crime against them.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Reader question: Can I buy or sell a car in France if I have a foreign driving licence?

You can drive in France for a certain amount of time with some foreign driving licences. But can you buy or sell a car with one and what other documents do you need?

Reader question: Can I buy or sell a car in France if I have a foreign driving licence?

Let’s start with the good news: a driving licence is not among the list of official documents needed to buy or sell a car in France – just to drive one.

But it’s likely that are asked to provide one when you buy a car.

In that case does what happens if you have a foreign rather than French licence?

We know by reading certain Facebook posts that this question often arises and some people have reported that they were wrongly asked for their French driving licence when buying a car and told that a UK licence, for example, wasn’t acceptable. 

Not having a French driver’s licence should not stop you from being able to buy a car in France.

Kim Cranstoun who runs the Facebook group ‘Applying for a French Driving Licence’ told The Local: “It’s a dealer issue, they have it fixed in their mind that you have to have a French licence mainly because they don’t understand the new agreement and the last thing they read was a UK licence was only valid until the end of 2021.

“As long as you have a valid UK licence you can purchase a car in France. Anyone going into a dealer with a valid UK licence should carry a copy of the agreement,” she said.

Interestingly a driving licence is not on the list of official documents you need to buy a car (see below) but dealer’s will often ask for it if they take charge of registering the car.

What does the seller need?

The seller is responsible for providing the car registration document, called the certificat d’immatriculation and known informally as the Carte Grise.

You must sign a certificat de cession (transfer certificate) along with the buyer, and then declare the sale on the ANTS website within 15 days. 

You should then receive a code de cession (transfer code) which you must also send to the buyer so they can register the vehicle in their name.

If the vehicle is second-hand and more than four-years old, the seller should also provide a recent roadworthiness certificate, proving that the vehicle has passed a contrôle technique (similar to an MoT in the UK), in the past six months.

What does the buyer need?

When you buy a car, you must sign a certificat de cession (transfer certificate) along with the previous owner, who has to declare the sale on the ANTS website within 15 days. 

The seller should then receive a code de cession (transfer code) which they must send you because you will need this to register the vehicle in your name. There is a fee, which usually falls to the buyer to pay for transferring a vehicle registration – which varies depending on the region, type of car, and its CO2 emissions. 

The previous certificat d’immatriculation (registration certificate – aka carte grise) needs to be struck through, and completed with the date of the sale and the seller’s signature.

You will then need to register the car in your name, which can be done online. You have one month to do this, otherwise you risk a fine of up to €750. 

If you are purchasing the car through a dealer, this transfer of registration will be done at the time of the purchase. Be aware, a dealer may ask for your driving licence as part of the process, but – as long as you hold a valid licence, whether it is French or not, you will still be able to go through with your purchase.

In fact, you can ask any certified garage to apply for the carte grise on your behalf, which could save on time and hassle, even if you didn’t buy the car from them.

When applying for a carte grise you will need to submit proof that the vehicle has undergone a contrôle technique (vehicle safety check) within the previous six months if the car is at least four years old.

To register the vehicle, you need the following official documents:

  • Identification (passport or identity card)

  • Proof of residence (typically a utility bill or rental receipt, less than six months old).

  • A copy of the Certificat d’immatriculation/Carte Grise with the appropriate section filled in.

  • The contrôle technique (CT) certificate, if required.

Buying a car with a loan

If you have the funds to buy the vehicle outright, you’ll have no problems – simply hand over the cheque at the appropriate time. It may be harder, however, to access financing for your vehicle if you’re not permanently resident in France.

Driving your new vehicle

If you plan to drive your car away that day, you will also be asked for a copy of a valid insurance certificate for the vehicle – in France, the vehicle is insured rather than the driver. 

Most car insurance companies will provide a provisional certificate to allow you to drive your new purchase. You will then need to finalise details and provide them with a copy of the Carte Grise when it arrives.

Driving licence

If you live permanently in France, sooner or later you may need to swap your driving licence for a French one – but where you learned to drive in the first place could dictate whether you have to take a French driving test. We cover that in depth here – including what’s changed for Britons in France after Brexit.

You can buy some vehicles – known as voitures sans permis – and drive them on some French roads without having a driving licence. Anyone born after 1988 must, however, hold a Brevet de sécurité routière, which has a 15-year limit, and the vehicles are speed limited and can only travel on certain routes.

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