Fraudsters clone French markets regulator’s website

abdelaziz Fathi

Fraudsters have cloned the websites of France’s financial markets regulator, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF).

There have been many fake scam websites luring in victims by claiming the registration details of authorized providers. However, this practice has been mostly in connection with unregulated firms attempting to exploit the genuine company’s reputation. The illegal use of the name and logo of a regulator to gain referral commissions is a whole new level of entrepreneurial criminal audacity.

As part of its active monitoring of unauthorised use of its name and logo, the AMF has observed an increase of newly registered domain names containing the initialism “AMF”.

Besides clarifying that the domains in question lack the proper authorisation to advertise its engagement with commission, the AMF also said that it strongly advises investors to only deal with financial firms that are authorised, and to check the its register to ensure that they are.

The French watchdog said it was working to have the websites removed and warned users to avoid the clone pages.

While these active domains only direct visitors to pages under construction, they could be used in phishing campaigns or, more generally, in spoofing campaigns impersonating the AMF and targeting investors.

Stocks scams have also been put on notice

Fraudsters in the financial services space have numerous methods for trying to get their hands on victims’ cash and one tactic that is becoming increasingly common is the fake or cloned website. In a cloned scam, the fraudsters copy or “clone” a legitimate website. The copy of the website can be astonishingly exact, or just an approximation with copied logos, but the intent is ultimately to separate victims from their money, credit card number, or login credentials.

The spread of fraudulent clone websites that mimic the sites of reputable financial entities is nothing new, but regulators have yet to get to grips with the rampant trend.

The AMF says it also continues to receive reports of victims falling prey to scams offering to buy shares in listed companies through fraudulent platforms posing as regulated providers of “savings accounts”. It also advised members of the public to be wary of stock recommendations given on social media and messaging applications.

These are typically from overseas ‘brokers’ who target potential victims offering to sell what often turn out to be worthless or high risk shares. These callers can be very persistent and extremely persuasive, and their activities have resulted in considerable losses for some investors, the authorities said.

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