The general of division Jean-Philippe Lecouffe is at the head of the sub-direction of the judicial police of the national gendarmerie. An entity which directs, coordinates and controls the judicial activity of the gendarmes of brigades and research sections and central offices dealing with serious crime. He deciphers the trends in delinquency linked to the coronavirus crisis, from theft of masks to cyber fraud, including drug trafficking, the possible "uberization" of the sale of drugs or the risk of an increase in domestic violence .
Have you observed a transfer of delinquency since the Covid-19 epidemic?
JEAN-PHILIPPE LECOUFFE. Since the epidemic, and even more since confinement, there has been a form of observation and waiting in the midst of traditional delinquency. There is, for example, a clear drop in burglaries in main residences, a decline contrasted however by the attacks that remain against businesses, stores, where the occupancy rate is lower. Offenders are not immune to the virus, so they observe and seek solutions. But they cannot remain without income for too long. We have also seen attacks against ATMs in the Oise, Essonne or in Rhône-Alpes in recent days. Besides that, there is no new delinquency at this stage, but rather a delinquency of opportunity, which adapts to the event by exploiting the theme of the Covid-19.
What realities intersect with this delinquency of opportunity?
There are, for example, scams in the decontamination of housing or the theft and trafficking of masks and medical equipment, sometimes sold at prohibitive prices. We have not identified any sectors or organizations yet, but the phenomenon is still very recent. Sales of masks are often the responsibility of people who have access to stocks and do not comply with prohibitions. In Haute-Savoie, the gendarmerie seized during a search Tuesday 5,600 FFP2 masks bought by a bar turning company from ambulance companies. It's selling under the coat.
In cybercrime in particular, the gendarmerie called for vigilance in these times of health crisis ...
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Yes, we must call Internet users to be even more careful than usual. We don't have enough perspective to speak of an explosion in cybercrime, but what is certain is that there is a much greater threat than usual, linked to the operation of the Covid-19 , attack surface and target vulnerability. Many more people work on computers, sometimes personal, teleworking at home, without having the means of protection of a corporate IT department. We observe ransomware attacks or phishing data theft. For example, sending emails delivering a detailed update on the Covid-19, or mentioning the news around chloroquine, with an attachment. As soon as it is open, the user is left with a virus, which will not be the coronavirus, but which will recover your data. We also monitor everything about manipulation of information about the virus on networks to detect "fake news".
Are companies and public structures also threatened?
There have indeed been cases of pharmacies or companies having ordered masks from ghost companies, often located abroad, and never received their goods. As for the state systems and the hospital structures which could be the target of attacks, we are very vigilant, because we know that there are vulnerabilities.
Have you noticed drug trafficking, especially chloroquine?
The OCLAESP (Central Office for the fight against damage to the environment and public health), an investigation service that combats damage to public health, has launched a watch on the sale of pharmaceutical products on Internet in connection with Covid-19, in collaboration with the C3n (Center for the fight against digital crime, Editor's note) , responsible for the fight against cybercrime. The aim is to detect any suspicious sale of antimalarials, such as chloroquine, of course, or fake vaccines, or even falsified prescriptions. We are alert to these traffics. We have already detected sites that sell masks. For the sale of antimalarial drugs, we will certainly identify them. The sale of pharmaceutical products is reserved for healthcare professionals, which is why we have also alerted the major pharmaceutical laboratories so that they also carry out monitoring. A cooperation program on this theme, hosted at Europol, has been set up at European level so that we can alert each other between States.
What about drug traffickers?
What we sense given the containment is that part of the sale of the drug is carried over to the Darknet. Consumers will no longer move physically, they will try to go through delivery systems with dealers who can move because they have traffic authorization. There will be a probable "uberization" of the business.
Should we fear an increase in domestic violence linked to confinement?
Violence against women remains a priority. I want to be clear: even during periods of confinement, the gendarmerie services continue to intervene when they receive emergency calls from people in danger or in distress. There is no break in service in this area. I remind you that the gendarmerie has a digital brigade that can be contacted 24 hours a day on the Internet. We follow delicate situations closely. For the moment, and with all reservations, we have seen an increase in interventions, but no increase in spousal homicides. There was a case in Charente-Maritime of homicide of a woman, killed by her husband who then committed suicide, during confinement. However, there had been no previous reports of domestic violence.