The fake officers have been reported especially in the departments of the Landes (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), Sarthe (Pays de la Loire) and Morbihan (Brittany).
The scammers are known to set up fake roadside checkpoints, and are usually wearing “plain clothes” with a fake “gendarmerie” armband, but no other forms of ID.
They stop drivers and ask to see their “attestation” confinement form, and find the holder in breach of the rules in some way. They then demand an on-the-spot cash fine payment of €135 (the standard fine for breaching confinement rules).
This is illegal.
No law enforcement officer in France is permitted to demand an on-the-spot cash payment of a fine from an offender - except if the offender does not have a home address in France.
Writing in a post on their Facebook Page, the gendarmes des Landes said: “The law states that officers cannot demand the immediate payment of a fine, except if the offender does not have a home address in France.
“If you live in France, law enforcement cannot demand immediate payment.”
The gendarmerie in Morbihan and the Landes also reminded drivers that gendarmerie officers performing spot checks on Covid-19 confinement forms would nearly always be in uniform, and even if they are not, their regulation armband would always be either grey or white, with the French flag clearly visible.
Officers must also be ready and willing to show you their professional ID card, which is the same size and material as a credit card.
The Landes gendarmerie said: “This [card] must show the tricolor [French] flag, the photo of the officer, and have an electronic chip.”
The post added that if any officer refuses to show you their professional card, you should call the police/gendarmerie number 17 immediately.
The gendarmerie in Sarthe also advised anyone who believes they are being targeted by scammers to not pay, and to report the incident on the number 17.
The Landes gendarmerie wrote: “[These scammers] are profiteering from this unprecedented situation by taking advantage of the trust of the weakest [in society].”
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France