An English friend of mine looking for gainful employment here saw an advertisement at the beginning of May, on a well-known website which provides information to anglophone people. The advertisement was on the local page in the Dordogne, though it may have appeared elsewhere.
The job in question involved 2 or 3 hours' work a day, from home, doing general administrative stuff online for an 'international entrepreneur' and the pay was 350 euros a week plus expenses.
The international entrepreneur gave my friend the job and said he would be sending her a cheque, some of which would cover her salary and some of which would be used for business purposes.
A couple of days later a cheque for 2300 euros drawn on a French bank with a French woman's name on the account appeared in the post and was followed by a spate of enquiries by mail as to whether she'd paid it in etc.
She was then told to transfer 1500 euros via Western Union to a person with a Malian name in Paris, and to buy 400 euros worth of mastercard top-up vouchers in any tabac and send the codes to her 'boss'. This was backed up by various telephone calls from 'Andrew' who spoke English with a West-African accent and seemed very plausible.
She did all this. Another cheque also for 2300 euros then appeared (a different French bank this time with a French man as the account holder) and she gave it to her bank.
The next day she got a letter from her bank saying the first cheque had bounced and to get in touch with the person who issued it (the woman). Then yesterday she got another letter from her bank saying they were shutting down her account as they are entitled to.
She has tried to get in touch with her 'boss' or 'Andrew' by telephone and email but obviously there is no answer and now the telephone doesn't work...
Yesterday evening I rang her bank for her to find out what the problem was - to discover that they had written to her last month (she doesn't know where that letter is) warning her that the 2nd cheque had been declared stolen and that they weren't happy with transactions on her account and would be shutting it down if no explanations were forthcoming.
So this morning we went to the gendarmerie because as you will all have realised (I hope) she was taken in by a fairly crude scam and has lost about 2000 euros, had her bank account closed and is interdite bancaire for the moment. And the wretched people in Paris who have had their cheque books stolen from their letter boxes could have been seriously out of pocket too.
The advertisement she replied to has now been removed from the well-known 'information for anglophones' website but there will no doubt be more.
I have seen a couple that smell of scam to me (asking for people who know about French tax "you will be well paid") I have also noticed lots of advertisements which probably aren't scams but for odd jobs etc with never a mention of cheque emploi service or a contract or anything legal and which are presumably au noir, frequently building-related jobs so there will be no insurance or anything for the builder OR the householder...