On sales sites, there are only grievances and alerts from cheated customers. On mapetitepharmacie.fr, a doctor's wife complains that she paid for two orders of hydroalcoholic gels "for the protection of patients and her husband" and that they had never been delivered. On my-natural-shop.fr, it is a young woman who says that she made a purchase of 109 euros for her and her parents and never received a package.
Friday, March 27, according to our information, seven fraudulent sales of masks or hydroalcoholic gel and screening tests were closed by the gendarmes of the Central Office for the fight against damage to the environment and public health ( Oclaesps). Two days earlier, the Paris public prosecutor's office had opened a preliminary investigation for fraud and co-seized Oclaeps and the DGCCRF, gendarme of competition and markets in Bercy.
Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis and the lack of protective equipment to fight the virus, scam sites have multiplied. A delinquency of opportunity which many consider abject but which can pay off. According to our information, 12,000 customers were registered in less than a month on only one of the seven closed sites. Or a loss of around one million euros. The investigation must now examine all of the orders.
Behind these sites, a specialist in scams
"The crooks identify essential products and put them online without the stock or even the right merchandise," said a source familiar with the matter. The criminals' recklessness continues even when the site is closed, insofar as they promise full reimbursement to customers. A way to save time and limit the number of complaints?
"Our sites have been unfairly subject to administrative closure," we can read. “We are sincerely sorry for this, our legal department has been seized and we are doing everything possible with the French authorities so that our online shops are reactivated as soon as possible. "
When it comes to the sale of coronavirus testing, the scam is coupled with another offense: the illegal sale of undeclared medical devices. An offense punishable by two years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros. The perpetrators sold malaria tests for Covid-19 tests, which are not commercially available.
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Behind these sites distributed without their knowledge by a French server - which allowed their rapid closure -, the investigators identified a specialist in scams, capable of surfing the wave of the moment, without scruples. The scammer has several other several sites offering to "hack a Facebook account". In the past, he allegedly “sold” scooters to users without delivering them. According to our information, the suspect of French nationality was located in the United Arab Emirates, monarchy from where he manages his lucrative business. If he returned to France, he risked five years in prison and a fine of 370,000 euros.
Since the start of the health crisis, Oclaesps has launched a watch on the suspicious sale of pharmaceutical products on the Internet in connection with the coronavirus, in collaboration with the C3n, responsible for the fight against cybercrime.
In addition to scams of all kinds, it involves detecting trafficking in antimalarials, such as chloroquine, or fake vaccines, or even falsified prescriptions. According to our information, several investigations have been opened. "For the moment, there is no organized traffic but only individuals who seek to obtain at all costs this drug only for sale on prescription," reports a judicial source.