France warned over fine payment website scam

The fraudulent messages direct victims to pay via a "government" site with the incorrect "gov-fr" in the URL

French police have issued advice and warnings after reports of scam emails asking victims to “pay a fine” through a "government" website that is actually fraudulent.

Police in the Maine-et-Loire department raised the alarm this week after reports that several people had received messages asking recipients to “pay a fine”, with a link to a website that included “amende.gov-fr” in its URL address line.

However, the only official government fine payment website is “www.amendes.gouv.fr”. Websites with the domains “gov-fr”, “.net” (or any similar iterations), should not be used or accessed, and should be reported.

In a Facebook post, the police said: “Several people have contacted us in recent days after having received messages inviting them to quickly pay a fine by connecting to [the fraudulent website]. You must not go to this site, and definitely do not pay.”

(Police nationale Maine et Loire / Facebook.com)

If you suspect that an email or message is fraud, or you have been victim of an online scam, you can call the Info Escroqueries line in France on the free number, 0805 80 58 17.

You may also report suspected nuisance messages, voicemails, and texts to the spam-fighting websites, 33700, or Signal-Spam.fr. These websites help coordinate reported spam messages and alert the relevant public or professional authorities.

One Facebook user responded to the police post, saying: “I received this fraudulent message two days ago. I sent it to 33700, to let them know.”

Another user wrote: “I systematically send scammy emails to https://www.signal-spam.fr."

Other forms of online fraud and harassment can include ransomware, which typically “blocks” your computer completely unless you pay a ransom to the scammers.

This kind of message can be reported to government site Cybermalveillance.gouv.fr, which can help victims of ransomware get back into their computer without paying anything. It also advises victims to report the issue to the local police.

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