regulators face explosion of online fraud

The company is serious. In other words, in the world of finance, it is regulated and licensed by PSAN (Digital Asset Service Provider) issued by the Autorité des Marchés financiers (AMF).

However, platform Coinhouse’s ad campaign last winter to promote its “Crypto” booklet with a 5% guarantee made the regulator wince. Promise “the future is for those who buy it (cryptocurrency)”or even an invitation to act now (“Don’t be late for the next rush hour”), or, more simply, the statement, “Bitcoin is worth more” too stuck to the messages of real scammers, of which there are plenty on social networks to deceive too gullible depositors.

Because passbooks and cryptocurrencies are two fashion trends in a profitable universe – prosecutors estimate that in 2020 there will be between 500 and 600 million euros of financial scams. And again, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg because many victims don’t go to the authorities out of shame at being so easily scammed.

“Cryptocurrencies are among our two biggest frauds with an average reported loss of €40,000 in the first quarter of 2022…compared to an average of €20,000 in 2021. So that’s really a big concern for us.” acknowledges Claire Castanet, Director of Investor Relations and Advocacy at AMF, during the presentation of the 2021 activity report of the joint AMF/ACPR unit responsible for overseeing good business practices in the financial industry .

“In order to attract the general public, the subliminal message “go ahead, don’t miss the opportunity” with this notion of urgency, a good deal to be captured, is one of the main sources of cryptocurrency scams,” says Claire Castanet.

Booklet, the tool of choice for scammers

For his part, Grégoire Voirlot, Director of Commercial Practices Control at ACPR, always notes the exponential growth of fraud around the booklet, with an average loss of €72,000, which in some cases can rise to €600,000. “The booklet reassures everyone knows…”, promoted by the curator.

However, unlike the conditions of a bank or insurance, a booklet is a comprehensive concept, not legally formalized at all. Thus, anyone can use it indiscriminately, even though in the minds of households it refers to regulated savings accounts (passbook A) and to the image of security and liquidity.

The authorities even expect this fake passbook scam to thrive in the context of rising interest rates, overshadowed by real marketing campaigns for bankbooks that are (again) starting to thrive in the savings industry.

The typical victim profile is difficult to define as it affects everyone, “rich and poor alike” emphasizes Benoît de Juvigny, general secretary of the AMF, who is usually older than the average Frenchman. As for scammers, they are rarely detected because they are located in foreign countries, sometimes European ones such as Cyprus, most often outside of Europe, such as the Maghreb countries or Israel. The schemes are complex and nonchalantly play the village jump, making it difficult to investigate and complicate judicial coordination.

Focus on Prevention

Therefore, prevention remains the only effective lever so far, the authorities insist. This includes preventive radio and television campaigns targeting the general public and the promotion of the Assurance Bank Information Service (Abeis) website, which warns of fake sites (blacklist) and informs the public (190,000 calls in 2021 and over 1 .4 million calls). visits). Thus, in 2021, the AMF and ACPR blacklisted over 1,300 fraudulent sites, bringing the total number of banned sites to almost 4,000 to date.

Common sense is also effective: don’t answer unsolicited calls, scrutinize mentions of the site, never give bank details, be wary of tempting offers such as his famous “selling” of listed stocks, which is itself an aberration in the stock market . Another worrying phenomenon is impersonating established professionals or popular brands such as Amazon.

The most dangerous and least visible (and therefore least visible to controllers) is undoubtedly on social media or encrypted messaging. Some influencers are also playing a leading role in drawing young people into the clutches of scammers.

Aside from the scam, regulators are even concerned about the messages passed on networks like Tik Tok to very young people, promises of future enrichment as certain as it is quick, which ultimately makes research useless… Undeniably too pretty to be true. the best reflex in the face of these illusions, which can be very expensive.