Young people more and more victims of financial scams on social networks

Posted on Dec. 2021 at 18:22Updated 13 Dec. 2021 at 18:44

“Become rich by working from home”, “put your mother in the shelter”, “become a millionaire before thirty” … Since the Covid-19 crisis, promises of easy money have exploded on the Internet. Financial scams have caused the French to lose nearly 500 million euros this year, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. Complaints and reports received by the DGCCRF (Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control) jumped 85% compared to last year. And according to the AMF (Autorité des marchés financiers), 1% of the French population has been the victim of a scam in recent years.

The scams with false passbooks and false credits have multiplied, leading to high losses, of the order of 72,000 euros on average for the former and 12,000 euros for the latter. Fraud trading in Forex, the unregulated currency market, and crypto-assets has resumed, while bogus offers to invest in airport parking spaces or nursing homes have generated even higher average losses of more than 50,000 euros and 70,000 euros respectively. Conversely, offers of cattle herds or diamonds have practically disappeared.

Young people and CSP – privileged targets

New fact, the crooks now target young people and CSP – (socio-professional categories). People who are more fragile and easier to convince because they have less experience in managing their savings. They are also more inclined to take risks.

“Social networks and influencers are the new entry points that have appeared in recent years,” warned the public prosecutor and the presidents of the gendarmes of markets and banks on Monday, during a press conference jointly organized for call to mobilization. The modus operandi ends up being well established: on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, influencers share false good plans to encourage young people to train in trading or to buy cryptoassets. Private messaging applications then multiply the impact of these scams.

Nabilla was fined 20,000 euros

This summer, the influencer Nabilla was also fined 20,000 euros for “deceptive commercial practices”. In 2018, she had promoted stock market services on Snapchat without mentioning that she was paid for it. “If the amount of the sanction may seem low, it is a warning given to influencers,” explained Françoise Benezech, first deputy prosecutor at the Paris prosecutor’s office.

Prevention remains the authorities’ most effective weapon against scams. The AMF and the ACPR (Prudential Control and Resolution Authority) regularly publish warnings and update blacklists of unauthorized actors. Since 2019, the number of sites on these lists has tripled. And international cooperation is progressing. For the first time, both Israel and Dubai have accepted the extradition of a suspect to France. In both cases, the latter was subsequently remanded in custody.

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