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 and via email to fraude-bretic[at];
  • 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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Ex French PM Fillon loses appeal over ‘fake jobs’ scandal

A French appeals court on Monday upheld a conviction against former rightwing prime minister François Fillon for providing a fake parliamentary assistant job to his wife that saw her paid millions of euros in public funds.

Ex French PM Fillon loses appeal over 'fake jobs' scandal

But the court reduced his sentence to four years in prison with three suspended – down from five years with three suspended when he was first found guilty in 2020 over a scandal that derailed Fillon’s presidential ambitions.

His wife Penelope Fillon was given a suspended two-year prison sentence for the embezzlement charge, down from three years suspended, and the court maintained fines of €375,000 for each of them.

They were also ordered to repay €800,000 to the lower-house National Assembly, which reimbursed Penelope for the job as Fillon’s assistant, and which was a civil plaintiff in the case.

Under French sentencing guidelines, it is unlikely that Fillon will spend any time behind bars, and can be ordered instead to wear an ankle-bracelet.

The couple, which insisted during the Paris appeals court trial that Penelope had done genuine constituency work, was not in court for the verdict.

At the November appeals hearing, prosecutors said there was clear evidence that Fillon and his stand-in as MP for the Sarthe department, Marc Joulaud, employed Fillon’s wife Penelope in an “intangible” or “tenuous” role as a parliamentary assistant between 1998 and 2013.

The court upheld the original three-year suspended sentence for Joulaud.