Northern France: Fraud Press Review (November 2019)

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Each month, Solvest selects a few cases of fraud and scam occurred in the North of France. This month: “bitumen” and renewable energies scams, complaint against a Bulgarian entrepreneur, conviction of a fraudster extradicted from Russia… and a good news for the North Department!

Dunkirk: the "bitumen" scam is back

Already reported in 2017 in the region, the so-called “bitumen” scam seems to be back in the Dunkirk area. Workers speaking french with a british accent offer to renovate paved surfaces.

They pretend to have some extra materials after finishing a construction project in the area, and offer to realize the work immediately. They actually use poor-quality materials, do not issue any invoice, and often ask for a payment much higher than the price mentioned at the beginning. If necessary, the British workers use physical pressure to obtain the payment.

This scam has been usual in France for a few years and remains rampant. Authorities remind people to be cautious about this kind of proposals.

Quaëdypre: complaint for fraud after the takeover of the TIM company by the Bulgarian Filipov in 2017

In Quaëdypre near Dunkirk, the producer of construction machinery cabins TIM had been taken over by the Bulgarian group Atlas in 2017. Two years later, the liquidation of the TIM company has been decided. Union representatives complain about the behaviour of the Bulgarian businessman Filipov and have filed a complaint in that regard.

Atlas, one of the main TIM’s customers, had taken over the company in 2017 for around 100 000 euros, while the Region brought more than 3 million euros to help the takeover. Atlas would have transfered TIM afterwards to its owner Fil Filipov for a symbolic  euro.

The union representatives now consider that the Bulgarian businessman “plundered” the French company while he protected the Atlas group interests. More than 300 employees should lose their job, and no takeover offer has been received.

Boulogne-sur-Mer: a fraudster on the run since 2006 sentenced to 1 year imprisonment

On the run since 2006, a fraudster who has recently been extradicted from Russia has been sentenced to one year imprisonment by the Criminal Court of Boulogne-sur-Mer.

More than 13 years ago in the North of France, the man was pretending he was the director of the “National Music School of Lyon”. He rented sound and lighting equipment to several companies before disappearing, while he paid the guarantee with uncovered cheques. The prejudice was reckoned to be 200 000 euros.

Subject to an international arrest warrant since 2006, the fraudster exiled in Russia where he spent four years in jail for having swindled about twenty Russian women. Recently extradicted, he will now end up behind bars in his home country.

Wasquehal: 800 complaints for a renewable energies scam

The company Vitaleco in Wasquehal was liquidated by court order in 2018. It is subject to about 800 complaints for scam, misuse of company assets and deceptive marketing practices. People who had been swindled are mainly coming from the North and Pas-de-Calais departments.

This company was doorstep selling renewable energy equipments using particularly agressive methods, and targeting vulnerable individuals due to their age or health conditions. The company was also wrongly pretending to have a partnership with EDF, the main French electricity supplier.

Six people, including the former managers of the company, are summoned to the Criminal Court of Lille in December.

North: caught in a fake invoice fraud in 2018, the North Department recovers the total amount of 800 000 euros

We finish this press review with a good news for the North Department. Caught in a fake invoice scam for 800 000 euros in 2018, the Department recovered the total amount this month.

Last year, a fraudster had used social engineering to obtain information from a company providing services to the Department. He then used these informations to issue a fake invoice to the North Department services, which had paid the amount to the fraudster.

The North Department understood it was a scam right after paying the invoice, and filed a complaint. Fortunately, the founds had been blocked on a swiss bank account before the fraudster could transfer the money in another country, as it is usually the case in this type of fraud.

The Department has now recovered the total amount previously paid, and ensures that additional controls have been implemented to prevent future attacks.

In a previous article, we presented some best practices to prevent the risks of “fake payments” and “fake president” frauds, both based on social engineering.