French court jails influencer who skimmed Covid aid

A Paris appeals court on Monday jailed an online influencer for five years for skimming more than €3 million off government support for businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

French court jails influencer who skimmed Covid aid
The snapchat logo (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

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.

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Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Frenchman Sebastien Raoult pleaded not guilty to cybercrimes Friday in Seattle federal court, two days after he was extradited from Morocco.

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Federal Judge Michelle Peterson told the 21-year-old Raoult that he was charged with nine counts, including conspiracy, computer intrusion, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Raoult listened through an interpreter.

After Raoult’s plea of not guilty, the judge ordered him to be detained as a flight risk until a hearing April 3.

Moroccan authorities arrested Raoult at Rabat airport May 31 at the request of the US Department of Justice. Along with Raoult, two other French nationals were also arrested, Gabriel Bildstein, 23, and Abdel-Hakim El-Ahmadi, 22.

According to Raoult’s indictment, he and the other two men are alleged to have formed a hacking team, dubbed “ShinyHunters,” to steal confidential data from 60 companies to sell on the dark web where criminals routinely operate.

Some of the companies are located in the Seattle area.

According to experts, beginning in 2020, the hackers stole customer data from the Indonesian e-commerce site Tokopedia, the US clothing brand Bonobos, the US telecom AT&T and many other companies, putting the personal data for sale on the dark web.

The criminal charges carry a possible jail term of up to 27 years in prison.