In the early hours of 28 June, some hundred officers from the French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) and the Moldovan Border Police (Poliția de Frontieră a Republicii Moldova) with the support of Europol swooped on the members of an organised crime group involved in large-scale financial fraud.
Seven house searches were carried out in Paris, and 25 in Chișinău. A total of 9 individuals – 8 Moldovan nationals and one French national – were arrested for their involvement in this scheme which defraud the French authorities of over €2 million.
The investigation uncovered the complex scheme set up by this organised crime group. The criminals recruited over 1 000 Moldovan nationals to apply under false pretences to a programme funded by the French Office for Immigration and Integration and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This programme – known as the ‘Migration Co-Development Program in Moldova’, aims at facilitating the social and economic reintegration of Moldovan migrants who have volunteered to return to Moldova from France.
The criminals would transport to Paris the recruits by bus, where they would apply for financial support under this programme using forged documents. They would then travel immediately back to Moldova, receiving between €700 and €1 350 for their participation in this scheme. The criminals would pocket the rest of the financial support offered by this programme, receiving between €5 000 and €7 000 per fake application.
On the action day, Europol deployed four of its experts from its European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) to assist the authorities in France and Chișinău with the cross-checking of operational data in real-time.