- Some Israelis are suspected of using fake claims to cheat the French social services via cryptocurrency, during pandemic.
- The French authorities learned about the scam and made some arrests, but a considerable chunk of the fund is still missing.
- A report hinted that crypto fraud represents 25% of all alleged fraud cases in France.
A new finding from Finance Magnates on Tuesday revealed that during the pandemic in 2022, fake claims and stolen identities were used to cheat the French social services. The scheme also comprises illegally acquired unemployment benefits in millions of euros laundered via cryptocurrency to Israel.
The French government permitted businesses and organizations impacted by the lockdowns during COVID-19 to obtain prompt compensation. But some people with dual citizenship—Israeli and French—took advantage of the situation to loot the government.
According to the report, bad actors made numerous fake applications, stealing money from the French Treasury. When the French authorities learned about the scam, they made arrests. However, a sizable portion of the money is yet to be recovered.
A joint investigation led by Europol, France, and Israel discovered the individuals allegedly laundered the French Treasury via cryptocurrencies. Authorities have staged three successful arrests, including the capture of Alexander Verlin, age 31, a resident of Hafia, allegedly a prime suspect. However, Verlin asserts that he runs a legitimate company and rejects the accusations.
During the multinational inquiry, England and Canada contacted Israel regarding possible Israeli involvement in crypto crimes unrelated to the current investigation. The Israeli police assured that further developments on the ongoing investigation involving Canada and England would be out soon.
Another report hinted that crypto fraud has significantly increased in France, where a quarter of all alleged fraud cases in the region included cryptocurrency. Interestingly, the report alleged that local Israeli criminals lack knowledge of money laundering via cryptocurrencies, and therefore, they hire crypto experts to carry out the theft on their behalf.