Paul Antony, known as “PA7” online, trawled social networks like Snapchat for self-employed people and small firms from March 2020, filling out fraudulent claims for the business payouts on their behalf and taking a 40 percent cut.
Of the 700 requests he filed totalling almost €34 million, some €7.5 million were honoured between March 2020 and July 2021, leaving the 25-year-old with “commissions” of over three million euros, the court found.
He and a friend, Julien M., spent months “showing off” their sudden wealth in Dubai to his 51,000 Snapchat followers and 13,000 Instagram fans before they were arrested.
Antony had pled guilty to fraud and money laundering as part of an organised criminal gang in his initial trial, but filed an appeal over the sentence.
The appeals court reduced his jail time from seven to five years, one of them on probation.
He is also barred from running a business for 10 years.
“The court applied the law well and justly given the facts of the case,” Antony’s lawyers Carole Foissy and David-Olivier Kaminski said.
Julien M. also received a reduced sentence, from five to three years’ jail, with 18 months on probation.