Fake passbook and cryptocurrency scams explode

In its 2021 annual report, the Pôle Commun Assurance Banque Epargne of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) and the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR) warns of an increase in financial product scams, with a particular focus on cryptocurrency and fake savings account scams.

Cryptocurrency scams: an average loss of €40,000

In 2021, the Pôle commun de l'AMF et de l'ACPR added over 1,300 fraudulent sites and establishments to its 5 blacklists, bringing their total number to over 3,860 names at the end of last year. In 2019, only 500 sites or entities had been added to these lists, and more than twice as many in 2020 (+1200 sites and entities).


Half of all scams are now based on theimpersonation of existing professionals, " to the detriment of both consumers and the impersonated players ", explains the Pôle Commun's annual report.

Since the start of 2022, the pace of scams has continued unabated, with 248 new sites and entities added to AMF and ACPR blacklists in the 1st quarter alone, and the average amount of damage caused by cryptocurrency scams rising to €40,000, compared with €20,000 over the same period in 2021.

Scammers target young people in particular, sometimes via influencers, on social networks like TikTok. They make people believe in fake cryptocurrency investments, or fraudulent "crypto passbooks" advertising very high returns.


Fake passbooks with tempting returns

At the same time, fake savings account scams are also on the increase, with an average loss of €72,000.

Here again, savers are lured by promises of very high returns, usually in excess of 4%. Scammers take advantage of the oversaving phenomenon observed during the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted households to seek out new, more profitable financial products in which to invest their money.

Confusion between genuine savings passbooks and fraudulent passbooks is made all the easier by the fact that the use of the term "passbook" is not regulated. It can be misused, even by players registered with the financial authorities.

Savings passbook scams are grouped together by the Pôle Commun Assurance Banque Epargne with payment and insurance fraud and credit scams, which together account for 90% of the scams listed by the authorities over the whole of 2021.

The largest ever fraudulent passbook scam involved the sum of 600,000 euros. Proof that all categories of the population are affected, from the most affluent to the most vulnerable. The average age of fraud victims is slightly higher than the average age of the French population, and the South-East region has a large number of cases.

However, these figures are not necessarily significant. Indeed, as Benoît de Juvigny, General Secretary of the AMF, points out, many victims feel ashamed of having been tricked, and prefer to keep quiet rather than alert the authorities.

The AMF and ACPR have launched a new prevention campaign aimed at social networks, on the theme " Don't do on the internet what you wouldn't do in real life ". The videos aim to protect savers from the growing number of financial product scams.