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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French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

France’s Economy Minister has praised the work of Bordeaux law officers, after they seized more than 2.4 tonnes of cannabis resin with an estimated street value in excess of €19 million.

French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

Bruno Le Maire and Minister Delegate in charge of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal in a joint statement: “Once again, Customs distinguished itself with an exceptional seizure of cannabis, recalling its key role in the fight against drug trafficking. We congratulate the customs officers for their daily commitment to the protection of our fellow citizens.”

Two people were taken into custody after officers stopped a lorry from Spain on the A63, near the Saugnac-et-Muret toll area, just south of Bordeaux, on Monday.

According to Le Figaro, the drugs were hidden in side compartments of the lorry, and concealed by its stated load of wheat, and were discovered by a sniffer dog during the stop.

In total, 2,414.8kg of cannabis resin and 9.75kg of cannabis herb were intercepted by the Bordeaux brigade, with an estimated value of more than €19 million on the illicit market.

Since the end of July, 2022, Customs officials have seized nearly 73 tonnes of drugs, including 41.2 tonnes of cannabis.

The French drugs squad is now investigating to determine the point of origin of the drugs, as well as their destination and the crime network behind the smuggling attempt.