The current health crisis has favored the multiplication of online scams, and the filing of criminal complaints for fraud or identity theft by major French companies.

This is especially the case of the so-called "investment scam", which consists for fake financial advisors to incite, by phone, email or online ads, individuals to invest in new placement offers, presented as highly attractive (high returns and no risk, no background checks, etc.).


Inevitably favored by a greater use of the Internet this year, these scams have also diversified: there are now offers to invest in parking spaces, retirement homes, wine, wood or dairy cows.

Indeed, such fraudulent offers adapt very quickly and often exploit topical events.

Thus, on December 3, 2020, the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) called on investors to be more vigilant when faced with investment proposals in containers.

More broadly, these offers are associated with the scam relating to atypical investments in tangible goods (e.g., gold, precious metals, crypto-currencies, fine wines and spirits, renewable energies) which are exploding in an era of financial market turmoil.

Indeed, following fraudulent solicitation by phone or e-mail, investors are invited to buy into unusual tangible goods such as containers.

The scam is then materialized by an unrealistic promise of gain, and heavy losses in practice: a contract is signed but no acquisition or rental of property is effectively performed.

Another type of scam particularly widespread in the context of the covid-19 pandemic is the promise to recover lost funds.

Fake financial professionals or agents appointed by an authority, or even fictitious law firms, offer to certain investors, who have suffered a massive loss of money on trading websites, to recover all their funds.

In order to get those funds back, scammers ask investors to pay a certain amount of money, and/or to provide confidential information, including telephone numbers and bank details. Such personal data is then used to commit fraud or aggressive direct marketing.


The French authorities, such as the Direction générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des fraudes (DGCCRF), the AMF and the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR) have continuously issued warnings regarding scams.

The AMF and the ACPR, as part of their respective missions of protecting retail investments and the clients of the banking and insurance sectors, now call upon the public to show the greatest vigilance in the face of a risk of fraudulent offers in the context of the covid-19 epidemic and falling financial markets.

They urge investors to apply various rules of vigilance before any investment, such as obtaining information and questioning the proposed offer.

Also, one must not communicate personal data by email, on the Internet or over the phone, particularly contact details and banking data (card data, banking identifiers, etc.).

The authorities also warn about targeted advertising by email or social networks, which may result in phishing.

Indeed, real investment advisors will never use such channels to propose this kind of offers.

When faced with an investment offer, one must also make a systematic check on the body or intermediary that is proposing the investment such as company identity, country of establishment, address of registered office, registration or authorization number, professional liability insurance for intermediaries, URL address, contact or bank details, wording of the transaction, etc.

In addition, it is possible to consult specialized resources published by the authorities, such as the blacklist of unauthorized companies and websites of the AMF.

Stay informed!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.