Northern France: Fraud Press Review (January 2020)

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This month around the North of France: a former mayor sentenced for misuse of public funds, a factory blocked by a ransomware attack in Belgium, and a case of fraudulent obtaining in an association near Dunkirk.

Hesdin: the former mayor sentenced to suspended prison for misuse of public funds

Stéphane Sieczkowski-Samier was elected as mayor of Hesdin (Pas-de-Calais) in 2014 when he was only 22 years old. He had been dismissed from his position in August 2019. The former mayor has now been sentenced by the Criminal Court of Boulogne-sur-Mer to three years of suspended prison and five years of ineligibility due to the misuse of public funds.

The Court said he misappropriated 77 000 euros to renovate his personal property. The town hall had bought construction materials which were actually used for the mayor private needs.

Stéphane Sieczkowski-Samier said he would appeal the sentence. He is also subject to investigation for unlawfull taking of interest and forgery and usage of a false title.

Ypres (Belgium): a factory blocked due to a ransomware attack

In Ypres (Belgium) at 15 kilometers from the French border, the Picanol factory has been stopped during almost two weeks due to a cyberattack which has blocked the IT systems of the weaving machines producer.

The hackers haved used a ransomware in order to ask for a ransom before eventually unblocking the system. The consequences are serious for the Belgian company, as not only the Ypres factory has been affected but also production facilities in Romania and China. The Picanol Group employs about 1 500 people in these three countries.

Grande-Synthe: an employee of an association sentenced for fraudulent obtaining

A former employee of the CLCV association (consumers protection) in Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk has been sentenced to three months of suspended prison for fraudulent obtaining. She had transferred several thousand euros on her personal bank account in 2016. The payments description was mentioning social security charges. However the employee later tried to justify the payments with fake invoices.

This case reminds that internal fraud may affect all types of organizations, from the small to large companies and also associations. A private investigator with an expertise in fraud matters will be helpful to detect the fraud origin and collect evidence for a proceedings.

Insurance fraud: a vehicle burned in Christmas Eve... by its owner

It is quite usual to see burnt vehicles after Christmas and New Year’s Eve. But we would not expect some of them to be burnt by… their owner!

This is what happened in Noyelles-Godault (between Lens and Douai) at the end of last year. A man went to police to report its BMW’s theft. Police quickly found the car burnt in a commercial area. After watching the security video, they discovered that the car’s owner had actually burnt it himself. The man will be called later for the insurance fraud and false allegations.

In cases of insurance frauds, especially in terms of vehicles, private investigators are often called by the insurance companies to investigate and get evidence.