The public are being warned to beware of fraudsters posing as calendar sellers during the festive season.
Scammers pretending to be public service workers selling calendars for a charitable donation are keeping the money themselves, or also using the sale as a way to divert your attention and steal from you.
Several thefts are reported to have taken place across France in recent weeks.
The Gendarmerie de l’Aveyron posted a warning to its residents on Facebook on November 16, stating that 10 Aveyron residents have already reported to the gendarmerie that they have fallen victim to the scam.
“In our department, several elderly people have already been victims of these crooks who at best robbed them a few dozens of euros and for the most unfortunate several hundreds,” it said.
In the commune of Saint-Aygulf, near Fréjus (Var), residents have been victims of such scams for several years.
"We have been caught out twice... But it is always the same, they take advantage of our old age. We can’t open our front door to anyone anymore." Nicole Boyer, a victim of these scams told France 3.
Meanwhile, the Mairie d’Acy Romance, a small town located near Rethel (Ardennes), highlighted the “current increase in burglaries related to the fake sale of calendars in the municipality”, in a post on Facebook.
They have asked their residents to alert their neighbours and call 17 if they notice something suspicious or out of the ordinary.
What to look out for
The fire brigade, postal workers and street cleaners are the only groups authorised to sell calendars in public areas in France.
The police recommend that you ask visitors for an official carte professionnelle, and never invite them into your home.
These workers tend to sell calendars to the residents of their municipality and do so dressed in uniform. However the uniforms of street cleaners are easy to fake so be sure that jackets have logos on them and are not just fluorescent vests.
People are advised against giving out personal details such as that they live alone, or will be away from home at Christmas.
Generally buyers can donate the amount of their choice for these calendars, so be suspicious if the seller insists on a fixed amount.
If the person becomes insistent or threatening, or if any behaviour seems suspicious, call 17 or 112.