Coronavirus: financial scams are increasing

Unfortunately, periods of crises are often conducive to the proliferation of scams. And that of the coronavirus is no exception to the rule. The Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (ACPR) and the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) have already noted this.

The two regulators call indeed the public to “the greatest vigilance against the risk of scams in the context of the epidemic of covid-19 and downturn in the financial markets”, we read in a press release published on Thursday.

These offers can take various forms ranging from an “investment presented as a safe haven” – such as gold or vintage wines – to “fake banking or insurance products with very attractive characteristics” – high yield and absence of risk, speed of subscription. It can also involve investments in companies, listed or not, “supposed to profit from the epidemic and see their valuation increase”.

A total of one billion euros

Last week, the AMF specifically challenged the public against the proliferation of offers for investments in whiskey, while to date none of these financial products has obtained from the regulator compulsory prior registration before any marketing. In total, the AMF lists a dozen sites specializing in whiskey scams on its black list. Last year, a huge investment scam in dairy cows had raised concerns among regulators. “Better than Booklet A at 1% (sic) … Investing in dairy cows with a yield of 6 to 12%, who says moo? », Could be read on banner ads displayed on certain sites.

In reality, these scams mainly aim to collect personal data – card data or bank identifiers, information on current investments and assets – which will subsequently allow fraudsters to make remote purchases, or even identity theft .

“Fraudulent offers evolve very quickly and often use the news, add the supervisory authorities. As part of their monitoring activity, the AMF and the ACPR have already noted that unscrupulous actors are using keywords linked to the covid-19 virus and are making spurious commercial speeches, playing on fear . The scams had also multiplied when the Française des jeux went public last fall. Between July 2017 and June 2019, financial scams cost French individuals around one billion euros, according to the latest estimates communicated to justice by the AMF last September.