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Bird mess, fake restaurants: Six scams to watch out for in France

From fake emails to accident set-ups, and restaurants that don’t exist, here are some of the most recent scams in France to beware of

An older woman looks at a smartphone in shock

A wide array of scams are spreading across France - here’s what to watch out for on email, text, on roads and in town Pic: fizkes / Shutterstock

People in France are warned to watch out for a series of new scams spreading across the country, as fraudsters find ever-more inventive ways to trick people out of money, jewellery, and data.

From fake demands for parcel delivery fees, false websites asking for data, and even a mysterious man with a “black stone” (see the links below), scams are becoming more sophisticated.

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Here are six more scams that you may not have heard of…

Inflation bonus

Beware emails pretending to be from the Caisse d'allocations familiales (CAF) about the inflation bonus, especially if the amount promised is more than the €100 actually given.

This was a payment given to families to help with rising costs. Scammers often send emails that appear genuine, or link to websites that appear genuine, in a bid to steal data. 

Emails with French grammar mistakes, low-quality images or unusual links (such as .com rather than .fr) are often a first clue that something is amiss. Always check that the website starts with the secure “https://” and has a padlock next to it. 

Change your password regularly, do not click on any links in emails or fill in any forms sent to you via email. Check with the original provider (in this case, the CAF) directly to verify if an email is genuine.

Read more: France scam alert: Watch out for fake emails about inflation bonus 

Read more: Warning over new scam on French carte Vitale healthcare cards

Bird droppings

This more unusual scam has been spreading for a few years, and has been highlighted more recently by the Hérault Gendarmerie. 

It consists of spraying passers-by - most often older people - with liquid that appears similar to bird droppings.

The perpetrators then offer to help the victims with their dirty clothes, and use the distraction to steal from their bags, rifle through pockets, or even pickpocket jewellery. 

Rear-view mirror

If you are driving and another driver accuses you, out of the blue, of damaging their car, be alert. They may show you a wing mirror or piece of glass as “proof” of the damage. 

However, this could be a scam, with the offender having faked an accident in a bid to force you to pay up. They will then call “an insurer” - who is actually an accomplice - and convince you to pay them in order to avoid court.

If you have no cash on you, some have even been reported to offer to take the victim to a cash point. One elderly person in Cahors was tricked 2,000€ in this way.

If this happens to you, do not pay anything on-site. Take down the registration number of the other vehicle and report it to the police.

Au pairs

In this scam, you may see people posing as families, and posting adverts for European au pairs on social media. Respondents are then contacted and asked for hundreds or thousands of euros to help “pay for plane tickets and visas”, which never materialise.

One woman in France, Anaïs, age 22, responded to such an advert and was then apparently contacted by an American family, who asked her to advance €1,870 to finance her trip and work permit.

When no visas or tickets arrived, and all contact was blocked just a few days before she was scheduled to travel, Anaïs realised she had been scammed.

Fake restaurants

This happens when people order food from restaurants online, only for the food to never arrive, with the restaurants then revealed to be non-existent.

A journalist from 78Actu experienced this last month. He ordered food from a restaurant on delivery platform UberEats, but it never arrived. Upon further investigation, he discovered that the restaurant did not exist. 

While platforms such as Deliveroo and UberEats aim to avoid this happening, some fake restaurants are still managing to fall through the cracks.

Lottery numbers

This scam consists of an e-mail that tries to get personal information or a payment of administrative fees from you, in order to grant you a lottery win.

Often, the message may use the logo of the Française des Jeux or the signature of personalities such as Stéphane Pallez, its CEO, to appear more credible.

However, on its website, the FDJ states that it will never ask for money to help you receive a prize, and will only request data from you  "in the context of managing your account or at the end of a game operation carried out voluntarily by you".

Related articles

Warning over new scam on French carte Vitale healthcare cards

New scam alert: People in France warned about banking ‘spoofing’

France launches new online platform for reporting internet scams

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