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French Authorities Issue Warning on Crypto Deception

A fraudulent investment offer in crypto assets is at the center of a warning issued by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and the Paris Prosecutor’s Office. The French authorities said that the platform, dubbed Immediate Connect, is using the internet and social media to advertise or spread false articles purported to be from well-known personalities or reputable information sites.

Operating through multiple websites, this fraudulent scheme allegedly mimics legitimate platforms, targeting those seeking lucrative investment opportunities. The AMF discovered it in June, flagging its automated trading offers as dubious and cautioning investors to exercise utmost vigilance.

According to a report by AMF, savers are being lured by an article purportedly coming from a reputable media publication. After filling out online forms, users are swiftly contacted by financial advisors, coercing them to join unauthorized trading platforms for forex, crypto-assets like Bitcoin, or derivatives.

Subsequently, the AMF has added several suspicious sites to its blacklist. The regulator has identified several clone versions operating as Immediate Connect. In a bid to combat this fraud, a court proceeding on October 9 resulted in the blocking of various associated web addresses, aiming to restrict their access within French territory.

The Paris Prosecutor’s Office warned against engaging with unapproved entities, citing severe penalties for the provisions of unauthorized investment services. This includes fines of up to €1,875,000 and imprisonment of up to three years for individuals involved in illegal investment activities.

AMF’s Crackdown on Unauthorized Sites

During the third quarter, AMF and the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (ACPR) blacklisted 22 fraudulent websites operating in the forex market. These websites allegedly offered unauthorized forex investments and crypto-linked derivative products.

Since the beginning of the year, the AMF and ACPR have collectively added 43 unauthorized sites in the forex category and one site in the crypto-asset derivatives category to their watchlists. To bolster investor awareness, these lists of unauthorized sites are accessible to the public via the Assurance Banque Épargne Info Service website and the AMF’s official platforms.

Meanwhile, AMF and the Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP) jointly introduced a “Responsible Influence Certificate” in September. This certification, initially established in 2021, targets financial influencers. It emphasizes responsible and informed financial communication.

The certification module encompasses various investment products, including equities, bonds, ETFs, funds, derivatives, and services such as investment advice and portfolio management. Moreover, it covers areas like crypto-assets and digital asset service providers.

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