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.
#Rappel 𝚴𝚶𝚴❗️La #gendarmerie n'envoie pas de mail précisant que vous avez consulté un site #pédopornographique.
Si vous êtes vraiment concerné, nous viendrons directement frapper à votre porte.
Spam ou contenu illicite ? ⤵️https://t.co/Uews5xkZHA https://t.co/56vGqUNhhl pic.twitter.com/DqJZlzMLTo
— Gendarmerie nationale (@Gendarmerie) August 27, 2021
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.”
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.