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Europe

when part of public money flies abroad

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Since 2020, more than a million and a half French people have been supported in their energy renovation work with “MaprimeRenov”. Last Monday, Elisabeth Borne announced its strengthening “by doubling the credits allocated to it”: four billion euros in state aid allocated from 2024. And networks of crooks who are already rubbing their hands.

Last March, Françoise* had to replace her old gas boiler. Since she heard about Prime Rénov and heat pumps, she began researching it on the Internet. Very quickly, a Parisian company approached him and, two days later, a sales representative came to his home. The offer seems attractive on paper: “it looked serious, it showed me that the company is well referenced on the government website… Everything was well put together.”

After simulation, the salesperson tells him that out of the 26,900 euros of installation costs, it will be able to count on 24,150 eurosstate aid. With a remaining charge, for her, of 2,750 euros.

Until almost 80 years old, I will pay a loan of almost 300 euros per month even though I had managed to no longer have any credit when I retired.

Françoise, victim

at L’Œil du 8 p.m.

But today, not only does the equipment not work but Françoise has not received a cent of public assistance. She also cannot reach the company.“I didn’t sign an order form, I don’t have an invoice, I don’t have anything at all,” she laments. Worse, she now finds herself with a huge debt. The company would have taken out a 15-year loan, without its knowledge, to pay for the 26,900 euros for the installation: “At the end of the loan, I will have 50,000 euros worth. Until almost 80 years old, I will pay a loan of almost 300 euros per month even though I had managed to no longer have any credit when I retired.”

Francoise has just filed a complaint for fraud against the company.

Like her, for months, there have been dozens of victims denouncing this same company on social networks: “Society to flee”, “Legal proceedings in progress, letter of complaint to the Prosecutor”, “Ghost company”…

I close my business within 30-40 days

Manager of an energy renovation company

at L’Œil du 8 p.m.

On its website in any case, the company gives guarantees of confidence. It displays testimonials from satisfied customers and operates throughout France. The company is located in the heart of Paris. But on site, no name on the intercom, no plaque, no mailbox either. As for the landline number, it is invalid. We end up obtaining the cell number of the manager who immediately, a little annoyed, tells us: “I am closing my business within 30-40 days.”

We won’t know more except, he confirms, that his company generates a turnover of more than 6 million euros. However, the company’s two bank accounts show negative or zero balances as shown by the documents we have obtained.

Well-established scams

A well-known inconsistency of the judicial police who investigate renovation bonus fraud. The scammers first create a company in France whose lifespan rarely exceeds more than one year. To avoid suspicion and seizures, they transfer the embezzled public money and that of the victims abroad as quickly as possible.

The funds first pass to theSpain, Portugal and Eastern Europe where they are converted into cryptocurrencies. To then reach, according to investigators, Israel, Dubai or Singapore. Countries described as “non-cooperating” in the fight against fraud.

RGE certified fraudulent companies

During our investigation, we will make another surprising discovery: some of these fraudulent companies, and in particular the one we followed, are listed on the official directory of the France Renov site which depends on the government and RGE certified, recognized as guarantor of environment, a qualification body approved by the State. How is it possible ? Reached by telephone, one of the officials responsible for certifying the companies admits his helplessness: “We do not have the capacity to fight against organized crime. These eco-delinquents globally represent 1% of qualified companies today. We manage to get rid of some, but others manage to get through.”

A finding that the Senate is alarmed by in a report made public last July: Energy renovation aid policies give rise to numerous frauds, scams and poor workmanship, to the detriment of consumers, who are sometimes heavily impacted. “.

Scams that are costly for victims but also for the State

According to Romain Roussel, Deputy Director of Industry, Health and Housing at the General Directorate for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), for the sole year 2021, “L’The estimated amount of fraud detected amounts to approximately 92 million euros, but the more general damage to the economy caused by fraud in the sector is undoubtedly much greater.

For its part, the government says that controls will be strengthened in the coming weeks and that numerous prevention campaigns are currently being distributed to consumers to avoid fraud.

*The first name has been changed

Among our sources (non-exhaustive list)

Elisabeth Borne detailed, on Monday September 18, the 2024 state budget devoted to the ecological transition

Protecting yourself against fraud: the new communication campaign from the National Housing Agency (ANAH) on France Rénov’

Financial aid distributed by ANAH

Advice from the General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) for successful energy renovation of your home

The report of the Senate Commission of Inquiry into the energy renovation of housing, made public in July 2023

The recommendations of the Defender of Rights regarding the dysfunctions of “MaPrimeRénov” of October 2022

THE website of the National Housing Agency (ANAH)

France Rénov, the public home renovation site

“Energy saving scams: fraud is still relevant” by Me Gregory Rouland (August 21, 2023)

Information to send to us? loeil@francetv.fr



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