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“Unjustified allegations”, “promotion of illicit products”… Half of the influencers controlled in 2023 caught by fraud repression

On social networks, it’s the jungle of influencers.

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“Unjustified allegations”, “promotion of illicit products”… Half of the influencers controlled in 2023 caught by fraud repression

On social networks, it’s the jungle of influencers. Some praise the miracles of a product, others advise investing in risky financial investments. The “anomalies” are numerous, as revealed by the Repression of Fraud this Friday: “failure to indicate the commercial nature of the publications or the advertiser, unjustified allegations, promotion of regulated or illicit products [or even] non-compliance of the rules of distance selling.” Of 212 influencers controlled by the organization in 2023, half had posted problematic publications. “This gave rise to 30 warnings, 62 injunctions and 18 criminal fines sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for the most serious cases,” explains the DGCCRF.

Last year, the control of influencers was at the heart of Fraud Repression actions, with the number of professionals controlled doubling compared to 2022. “We judged that it was necessary, particularly with the increase in reports, which increased to 11,000 in 2023,” specifies Sarah Lacoche, general director of Fraud Repression. She also differentiates between two types of influencers who were not in compliance: “There are those who are not very aware of the regulations - but there is no danger in this - and others which promote much riskier practices.”

For Sarah Lacoche, “we should not stop at the notoriety of influencers because some, even with a small audience, engage in questionable practices.” The general director points out in particular a Frenchman who “promoted blue water” supposed to cure various ailments. To put an end to these “fraudulent practices”, the DGGCRF ensures that it “does not stop at the window” and “goes up the chain” of the actors concerned. Investigative work which sometimes results in the transmission of “the file to the public prosecutor”.

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Fraud Repression will now “continue to carry out prevention” and strengthen its controls. “Today, most influencers are better aware of their obligations and rely on a guide to good conduct, published in June 2023,” emphasizes Sarah Lacoche. “Everyone is supposed to have understood, if there is any form of reiteration, we will not hesitate to toughen our repressive policy,” she warns.

Influencers who were ready to overstep the laws have now been warned. To escape the Crackdown on fraud, some residents in Dubai spread the word to speak English in their publications. “They are wrong, as long as they are addressed to a French audience, our conditions apply,” recalls Sarah Lacoche, “we have the power to summon them and organize international cooperation in the most serious cases.”

A warning which seems to have been heard among professionals. Victoria Mehault, followed by more than 1.4 million subscribers on Instagram, published several videos on Monday to explain her summons to the DGCCRF last December. “They had a lot of information about me and they asked me a lot of questions, I had the impression of being in a police interrogation,” confides the young woman. “Be careful what you post and note that it’s an advertisement,” she shares with other influencers. The tone is now set with “a subject that is rising from a European point of view,” assures Sarah Lacoche, and which could still make new waves.

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