AMF: Scams related to the coronavirus epidemic

The AMF and the ACPR warn the public of the risks of scams in the context of the coronavirus epidemic

The Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) and the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR), as part of of their respective missions of protecting retail investments and the clients of the banking and insurance sectors, call upon the public to show the greatest vigilance in the face of a risk of scams in the context of the covid‑19 epidemic and falling financial markets.

These fraudulent offers may take several forms, such as proposals presented as being safe-haven investments in tangible goods (such as gold, precious metals, fine wines or whiskies, etc.), fake banking or insurance products combining highly attractive features (high returns and no risk, quick subscriptions without any borrower background checks, etc.), fraudulent calls for donations, or investments in companies (listed or not) that claim to benefit from the epidemic and see their value rise.

At a time when French people are confined to their homes and making greater use of internet, the AMF and the ACPR call on them to be even more vigilant as regards any direct marketing campaigns by telephone, fraudulent emails claiming to come from trustworthy third parties (a bank, administration, energy supplier, etc.) and also advertising banners linking to forms to be completed. Scammers use these techniques in order to collect personal data (telephone numbers, card data or banking identifiers, information on current investments and assets, etc.), which will then be used to commit fraud (online purchases, usurping identities, etc.) or for the purposes of aggressive or manipulative direct marketing in the case of financial scams.

The two authorities remind you that such fraudulent offers adapt very quickly and often exploit topical events. In their monitoring activities, the AMF and the ACPR have already noted that unscrupulous actors are using keywords linked with the covid-19 virus and employing misleading pitches seeking to play on people’s fears.

As a general rule, the AMF and the ACPR remind you of the precautions to be taken and rules of vigilance to be observed before making any investment or subscription:

  • Never give your contact details or any other personal data on internet or by email;
  • Do not reply to any telephone calls you have not solicited;
  • Make sure that you obtain the basic information about the body or intermediary that is proposing a banking, insurance or financial product (company identity, country of establishment, address of registered office, registration or authorisation number, professional liability insurance for intermediaries, etc.);
  • Make a systematic check that your contact is authorised to propose the product by consulting the website of the ORIAS (the body responsible for keeping the register of insurance and banking intermediaries), the register of approved financial agents REGAFI and the lists of insurers authorised in France and holding a European passport;
  • Consult the black lists published by the authorities on the Assurance Banque Épargne Info Service website (www.abe-infoservice.fr) and check that the website or entity proposing the financial service is not included in them;
  • Concerning atypical investments in tangible goods, they must be approved by the AMF. Consult the white list of the offers that have been registered.
  • No sales pitch should ever make you forget that there is no such thing as high returns without high risk.

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