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watch out for online scams that are increasing with the Coronavirus crisis

Some crooks take advantage of this rowdy period to invent new offers and entice anxious internet users. FSR / GraphicObsession

This is called collateral damage. “The coronavirus crisis and the collapse of the financial markets are generating legitimate fears among savers. But we fear that some crooks will take advantage of this turbulent period to invent new offers and lure anxious internet users “, explains Claire Castanet, director of investor relations at the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF). Since last January, the financial gendarme has already identified thirteen new fraudulent gold sales sites in his blacklist, but others will be added shortly. “We also see the appearance of sites that play on terminologies by associating, for example, the words trading, immunity and coronavirus », warns Claire Castanet. The policeman of the American financial markets (SEC) recently warned the investors on the promotion of listed companies supposed to prevent, detect or cure the coronavirus and whose value should jump.

Financial scams did not wait for the health crisis to flourish on the web.

“Nevertheless, those who develop them will want to take advantage of the ambient anxiety to convince certain savers, confined to their homes, looking for investments supposed to be safe havens”, fears Claire Castanet.

Diamonds, rare earths, bitcoins, investments in fine wines or spirits like whiskey … scams linked to alternative investments are legion and the victims lose thousands of euros, sometimes the savings of a lifetime. Last September, the AMF, the Paris Prosecutor's Office and the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (ACPR) had already sounded the alarm. According to their estimates, the fictitious investments made savers more than one billion euros between July 2017 and June 2019.

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Because these offers are omnipresent, offered by email or in advertisements on the Internet, on mobile applications or social networks. “These seemingly serious sites are often well documented, underlines Claire Castanet. Everyone can be fooled, even the most knowledgeable. “ Above all, they surf the fashions and the news and can concern more traditional investments. Thus, for example, last February, with the drop in the yield on the Livret A to 0.5%, we saw the appearance on the Web of offers of false savings books, presented as alternatives and offering up to… 7 %! A miraculous return which should, however, make any saver flee, knowing that secure products are no longer yielding much in recent months.

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