regulators have faced an explosion of online fraud

The company is serious. In other words, in the world of finance, it is regulated and has a PSAN (digital asset service provider) license issued by the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).

However, the advertising campaign of the Coinhouse platform to promote its booklet “Crypto” last winter with a 5% guarantee made the regulator tremble. The promise of Fr. “The future for those who buy it (crypto)”or even an invitation to act now (“don’t be late for the next rush hour”), or, more simply, the statement “Bitcoin costs more”, too attached to the messages of real scammers, many of whom are on social networks, to deceive overconfident savers.

Because books and cryptocurrencies are two fashion trends in the lucrative universe – 500-600 million euros grew in 2020, according to the prosecutor’s office – financial scams. Again, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg, because many victims do not turn to the authorities out of shame that they have been so easily deceived.

“Crypto is one of the two most popular scams, with an average loss of 40,000 euros in the first quarter of 2022 … compared to an average of 20,000 in 2021. That’s why it’s a real concern for us. “ notes Claire Castane, Director of Investor Relations and Protection at AMF, during the presentation of the report on the activities of the joint AMF / ACPR (Prudential Control and Resolution Authority) for 2021, responsible for overseeing the effective business practices of the financial sector.

“To engage the general public, the subconscious message ‘Keep going, don’t miss the opportunity,’ with this notion of urgency, a good deal to be grasped, is one of the main sources of cryptocurrency fraud.” Says Claire Castane.

Booklet, a tool of choice for fraudsters

For his part, Gregoire Vuarlo, director of commercial practice control at ACPR, has always noted an exponential increase in booklet fraud with an average loss of € 72,000, which in some cases could rise to € 600,000. “The booklet calms down, everyone knows …”, promotes the head.

However, unlike bank or insurance terms, a booklet is a general concept that is not legal at all. Therefore, everyone can use it indiscriminately, even if in the minds of households it is about regulated savings accounts (passbook A) and the image of security and liquidity.

Authorities even expect this fake book scam to thrive in the context of rising interest rates, overshadowed by real marketing campaigns for bank books that are (again) beginning to thrive in the savings landscape.

The typical profile of victims is difficult to determine because it applies to everyone “both rich and poor” emphasizes Benoit de Juvigny, secretary general of the AMF, who is generally older than the average Frenchman. As for fraudsters, they are rarely identified, as they are located in other countries, sometimes European, such as Cyprus, most often outside Europe, such as the Maghreb or Israel. The tracks are difficult and carefree for the country’s jumps, which complicates the investigation and complicates the coordination of courts.

Focus on prevention

Therefore, the only effective lever so far is prevention, government officials insist. This includes public and television prevention campaigns aimed at the general public, as well as the promotion of the Assurance Banque Info Service (Abeis), which warns of fake sites (blacklists) and informs the public (190,000 calls in 2021 and more than 1, 4 million visits). Thus, AMF and ACPR blacklisted more than 1,300 fraudulent sites in 2021, bringing the total number of banned sites to almost 4,000 today.

Common sense is also an effective tool: do not answer unwanted calls, look carefully at mentions of the site, never report bank details, beware of tempting offers, such as his famous “sales” of shares listed on the stock exchange, which in itself are a deviation on the stock market. Another worrying phenomenon is pretending to be recognized professionals or popular brands such as Amazon.

The most dangerous and least visible (and therefore least visible to managers), of course, are social networks or encrypted messages. Some influential people also play a leading role in attracting young people to the hands of fraudsters.

In addition to fraud, regulators are even concerned about reports spread on networks such as Tik Tok to very young people about the promise of future enrichment, as likely as it is fast, that ultimately makes research futile … Too beautiful to be however, it is undoubtedly the best reflex against these illusions, which can be very costly.