Seven held over €20m Madoff con

French victims lost between €5,000 and €600,000 in pyramid investment scam

SEVEN French people have been arrested over a Madoff-type fake investment scheme that is thought to have fleeced victims out of at least €20million.

More than 400 French people are thought to have been tricked by the scheme which promised returns of up to 30% on some investments.

The seven people were arrested in Calvados, Finistère, Haut-Rhin and Val d'Oise and this follows the arrests of others in Germany, Belgium Italy and Cyprus.

Running for the past three years, victims had entrusted investments to fake financial advisers who operated a pyramid scheme with investors pushed towards recruiting more people to the scheme to increase the “rewards” – and pay the originators of the scheme.

The scam started in Normandy and moved to Brittany, the east and then the south with victims paying out between €5,000 and €300,000 per contract – although one couple in the Lyon area are thought to have put in about €600,000.

Police from the money-laundering team at Tracfin launched the inquiry after spotting unusually heavy activity on one person’s bank account in Calvados.

A few days ago the first arrests were made and, so far, 10 European countries are affected with officers seizing three houses, four boats and 14 luxury cars. Police are still trying to trace victims who have not, so far, come forward.

To find out if a financial adviser is registered in France, check this previous Connexion article... Check financial advisors online