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CRIME

Public in France warned against fraudulent emails from gendarmerie

Members of the public have received emails from the gendarmerie and other law-enforcement bodies accusing them of pedophilia and summoning them to court. This is likely a scam seeking to steal your personal data or money.

The French Interior Ministry has warned of fraudulent emails purporting to have been sent by law enforcement.
The French Interior Ministry has warned of fraudulent emails purporting to have been sent by law enforcement. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP)

It is a phenomenon that has been going on for months in France. 

People in Savoy, the Dordogne, the north and many other areas of the country have received emails accusing them of child-sexual abuse. 

Commonly, these emails appear to be sent by the gendarmerie, police or even Europol. They instruct recipients to make contact with law enforcement agencies as soon as possible and to transfer personal information. 

The messages often look official, bearing an electronic signature and seemingly legit logos. Some of the senders even try to usurp the identity of real police chiefs. 

The Interior Ministry warned once again on Thursday that this is a scam

“The objective of this fraud is to make you send a sum of money or to make you communicate your personal data,” said the ministry in a statement. 

“The services of the Interior Ministry would never send an email to bring you in for questioning.”

READ ALSO: Criminal scams – online and offline – to watch out for in France

The authorities have provided the following instructions for what you should do if you receive such an email:

  • Do not give in to panic;
  • Do not answer: in doing so, you will only attract follow-up messages;
  • Do not make contact with the sender;
  • Do not pay any money;
  • Change your email password;
  • Do not click on any links as they will likely lead you to download dodgy spyware or land you on a page that is well disguised as official;
  • Mark the email as scam so that you do not receive future messages of this nature;
  • Take a screen shot of the message and alert the authorities via the portal on www.cybermalveillance.gouv.fr and via email to fraude-bretic[at]interieur.gouv.fr;
  • If you did engage with the sender of the email, be sure to make alert this to the Police or Gendarmerie. 

Other common scams include fake emails purporting to have been sent from people working as French tax officials. Many other fraudulent criminal groups operate through phone calls and text messages. You can read about how to stop receiving these calls HERE

Ransomeware attacks are also becoming increasingly common in France. Between 2016-2020, the police and gendarmerie intervened in some 1,800 attacks. 

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CRIME

Top French central banker in corruption probe

French prosecutors said Friday that they had opened a corruption investigation into top central banker Sylvie Goulard, who simultaneously stepped down from the Bank of France.

Top French central banker in corruption probe

The probe covers suspicions of accepting bribes, influence peddling, illegal conflicts of interest and breach of trust, the national financial prosecutor’s office said, confirming a report from daily Liberation.

Graft-fighting group Anticor triggered the probe by filing a criminal report in June, with the investigation launched in September.

In a statement, the Bank of France said Goulard – a former MEP and briefly defence minister under President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 – would be leaving her post as one of the institution’s deputy governors on December 5.

Returning to the foreign ministry?

She wished to “return to the foreign ministry” where she started her civil service career, the bank said.

A source close to Goulard told AFP that her departure had “nothing to do with the investigation”.

“Neither Sylvie Goulard nor her lawyer were informed that the investigation had been reopened,” the source said.

A previous probe in 2019 was closed the following year after no crime was found, case files seen by AFP showed.

Anticor questioned in its complaint the work Goulard performed for the California-based Berggruen Institute think-tank.

She has acknowledged accepting 10,000 euros ($10,530 at current rates) per month working as a “special adviser” to the Council for the Future of Europe, an offshoot of Berggruen, between 2013 and 2016.

Goulard’s explanation

Goulard, who was also an MEP at the time, said her work had “no relation of any kind with the business activities” of the group’s founder, German-American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

She said her role included “reflection, moderating groups, organizing meetings”.

Her lawyer declined to respond Friday when contacted by AFP.

The Berggruen Institute denied in 2019 that Goulard had been given a fake job, highlighting that she organised meetings in Brussels, Paris and Madrid.

Goulard has also been charged in a probe into suspected fake jobs among assistants to MEPs from the Democratic Movement, a small centrist party that supports Macron.

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