Low emission zones: Crit’Air sticker scams are exploding

thumbnail crit'air © Shutterstock

© Shutterstock

Supposed to be secure, the Crit’Air vignette is nevertheless the object of scams by crooks eager for your bank details.

Responding to the name of “air quality certificate”, the Crit’Air sticker that you may have already been able to affix to the windshield of your vehicle is an additional source of inspiration for criminals. The scam is not new, the certificate having appeared in 2017, but it is gaining momentum, as low emission zones (ZFE) are delimited all over France.

With the proliferation of ZFEs, the potential scam of the Crit’Air sticker is growing

To date, 11 agglomerations have established low emission zones, according to data transmitted by the government: after Paris, Grenoble and Lyon, Rouen and Reims followed the movement in 2021, joined by Marseille, Nice, Toulouse, Montpellier and Saint -Étienne last year, and finally Strasbourg since the 1er January 2023.

Within these areas live several million inhabitants, almost 5 million for the Île-de-France region alone, more than 8 million in total. Suffice to say that the number of people having to order their sticker at 3.72 euros and potentially being more susceptible to attempted scams is relatively large.

As is often the case when a public action takes on a certain scale, the crooks take the opportunity to go hunting for victims. For several months, SMS and fraudulent sites aimed at stealing the banking information of drivers have been increasing, which ended up pushing the police to alert our colleagues at AFP.

By SMS, email or through a site imitating the original: all means are good

Thus, and sometimes even if you do not have the permit, you may have already received a phishing SMS or an email containing a link, some small spelling mistakes and a call to quickly equip you with your sticker Cit’Air, of course. The scam can also take the form of a fake website, which tries to imitate the official page as well as possible, which can be found at the address certificate-air.gouv.fr (only).

If in 2020 and 2021, 43 facts were reported to the police and the gendarmerie, 56 new facts were reported for the year 2022 alone, including 38 for the period running from July to December. Not everyone reports or files a complaint, so the actual number is undoubtedly much higher.

Sometimes, after a first call, the scammer telephones the victim pretending to be his banker who has come to warn him that he has been scammed and asks him for access to his accounts to supposedly cancel the transaction. “Explains the head of the Department of Strategic Analysis of Organized Crime (also attached to the central direction of the judicial police), William Hippert. Enough to push some panicked motorists or bikers to fall more easily into the trap.

Source: AFP, franceinfo

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