This mom was the victim of a scam on Facebook: “I was trapped in beauty”

Marie-Laure Chollet, on sick leave, has to support her twelve-year-old daughter. Beneficiary of the Restos du Cœur in Gironde, the mother of the family says that she “fell into an abyss” because of the scam of which she was the victim. (©Gaël Arcuset / The Republican)

“Nothing caught my eye. I got caught in beauty. At the table in his living room, Marie-Laure Chollet stares at the screen of his mobile phone. And let out a long sigh. This mother, who lives with her twelve-year-old daughter in Saint-André-du-Bois, a small village in Gironde, was victim of scammers on Facebook.

She lost over 300 euros in just a few clicks before realizing that she was at the heart of a vast truanderie, where the margoulins are without scruple or pity.

It all starts in November 2022. As she scrolls through the news feed on the famous social network, her eye stops on an advertisement. She discovers there an account, called “Society for rapid aid to people in precarious situations”.

She leaves a comment. Just to take the temperature and check the seriousness of the said company. “In the process, I received a private message that said: ‘Hello Marie-Laure, tell us how to help you.’ And There you go… “

A first transfer of 107 euros

The South-Girondine, wine worker, is then off work following an elbow trauma. After several administrative errors, she finds herself without pay. With a serious hole in the body. If she can eat, it is “thanks to the Restos du Cœur”.

This “Rapid Aid Society for People in Precarious Situations” therefore comes at the right time, she believes. “ I asked them for a loan of €2,500 reimbursable over 36 months”, explains Marie-Laure Chollet.

The “Rapid Aid Society for People in Precarious Situations” has some 300 fans on Facebook. But many of the accounts that liked the page are actually fake. (©Screenshot / Facebook)

The discussion continues. But never by e-mail or telephone. Always via MessengerFacebook’s instant messaging service.

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I am asked for my marital status, my address, my income. And then, very quickly, I was asked to pay 107 euros in order to finalize the request.

Marie-Laure Cholletvictim of scammers on facebook

Payments into the account of a centenarian, in Normandy?

His interlocutor tells him the IBAN (international bank account number) on which the payments must be made. This account is linked to one named Anne-Marie B., which Marie-Laure Chollet had never heard of before. Who does this account belong to?

According to Iban Checker, software designed to validate an international bank account number and identify the owning bank, this account is the property of a client of the Caisse d’Epargne de Normandie. And according to our investigation, it could be a centenarian, living in a retirement home in Calvados. Contacted by our editorial staff, the management of the retirement home in question did not respond.

Still, all this, the South Girondine ignores it when it enters the bank details and makes the first transfer. She trust, eyes closedto his interlocutor.

“You will have the transfer, you will have my word”

Shortly after, a new mess occurs. Marie-Laure Chollet’s car breaks down. Living in the countryside, having to transport her daughter to college, she absolutely needs a vehicle. “There,” she breathes, I ask for an additional €2,500, repayable over 48 months. And very quickly, I was told that it would not be a problem. They write to me: ‘You will have the transfer, you will have my word.’ »

Over the days, however, the resident of Saint-André-du-Bois doubts. More and more… Until the “Society for rapid aid to people in precarious situations” sent him new “official” documents to fill out. The documents in question are poorly produced, the editing rough.

And, above all, a new name appears in the loan agreement; That of Delphine T. “The RIB on which I made the payments belonged to Anne-Marie B., not to Delphine T. From that moment, I feel that something strange is brewing. »

His interlocutors “force his hand”

Unfortunately for her, Anne-Marie Chollet continues to trust the mysterious society. Who asks him for a supplement of 212 euros. For the South-Girondine, without salary after an administrative hiccup, the sum to be paid is considerable. Corn she pays, even if it means putting herself in the red.

At that time, they wrote to me: ‘You will have the transfer, you have my word.’ Except that right after, I am asked to pay 128 € again. I hadn’t paid the electricity or my rent. I explain it to them, but they force my hand.

Marie-Laure Chollet

This is finally how she realizes that she has been abused and that the 319 euros she advanced are evaporated in nature.

A complaint lodged

“So I went to my bank to oppose, report of the mother of the family. And I went to file a complaint with the gendarmerie. Today, she still hopes to be reimbursed by her bank.

In the end, what do we know about this “Society for rapid aid to people in precarious situations”? First disturbing element: the photograph, used as a banner and showing nine women in an office, was stolen from the Breton newspaper The Telegrame. It comes from an article, published on May 2, 2019 and devoted to an association in Landerneau (Finistère) specializing in home help and care.

On Facebook, the page, which defines itself as a “government agency”, was created on October 9, 2020. Another element: the people who manage this page live in Beninin west Africa.

This page, which is defined as a
This page, which defines itself as a “government agency” is actually managed by people living in Benin. (©Screenshot / Facebook)

Marie-Laure Chollet therefore dealt with browsers, web scammers. The police opened an investigation. For its part, our editorial team has tried to approach these scammers, whose business can be particularly lucrative.

” In these countries [d’Afrique de l’Ouest, ndlr], these scams can fuel an entire village. It’s an underground economy”, explained to Jean-Jacques Latour, expertise and security manager at Cybermalveillance, a few months ago.

What to do with “grazers”?

The “grazers”, these web crooks so called in reference to the sheep that feed themselves without effort, are particularly present in West Africa. They create fake social media identities, fake pages.
On Facebook, each page has a “Page transparency” tab which allows you to see its creation date, but also where those who are the authors come from. Another interesting element: it is possible to find out if the page has changed its name since its activation. A page that changes its name regularly is suspicious.
So how can you be sure you don’t get tricked? There are several golden rules to follow: the first is never to send money or intimate photos to someone you don’t know. Then, it should be kept in mind that the gendarmerie and the police never send a summons electronically.

One question remains unanswered: Where did the money transferred by Anne-Laure Chollet go? to a Caisse d’Epargne de Normandie account? Have the approximately 300 euros been transferred to Benin? And if so, a comment? At the time of this writing, the messages that we had translated to the “grazers” remained unanswered.

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