- Author : Jean-Marc Philibert
- Master : 3020
ON THE BLACK: THE NEW SCAMS | TF1 | Reportages
Every year more than 2.5 million French are thought to partake in some undeclared activity. A phenomenon that is believed to cost the public finances more than 5 billion Euros. At a time when the government is mobilizing all its resources to overcome the coronavirus, this colossal sum represents a shortfall that the State can no longer afford. So, in order to stem the financial haemorrhaging, all its services are being called up: in 2019, URSSAF (social contributions office) recovered more than 700 million Euros, a rise of 10% over the previous year! However, the margin remains large and any initiative is acceptable to recover even more unpaid contributions.
In Nancy, Michaël is an employment inspector and an expert on working on the black. He’s head of an anti-fraud division and relentlessly hunts down businesses that flirt with the law. And he has a real job on his hands: in the East of France, the most wide-spread fraud is that of secondment. French businessmen set up their companies in Luxemburg to work in France. A totally illegal practice that is thought to enable unscrupulous directors to evade paying tax and social security contributions in France. “It’s important on a company level because contribution rates are not the same in Luxemburg and in France,” explains Michaël. A shortfall of several billion Euros every year! For over a year, we followed Michaël and his teams on their investigation to expose the complex schemes set up by the fraudsters. Karim is undocumented. A young Algerian, he arrived in France with his family at the beginning of 2020 in order to get treatment for his baby who suffers from a serious eye disease. But without a visa, there’s no SS cover. “For ‘normal” people who have their papers, it’s the SS that pays their medical costs, but in this case you have to pay it yourself. And it’s expensive, more than €2,000 for a single examination,” he tells us. So, in order to pay the medical bills, Karim works on the black: he became a delivery man for a major on-line food delivery service! This is one of the foremost of the latest frauds. Like Karim, thousands of migrants are believed to be working for these sites by sub-contracting an account for a few hundred Euros per month. Certain unscrupulous self-employed workers make it a real business by opening accounts on all sites and making up to as much as €1,500 per month by renting them out to the undocumented. We investigated these networks and discovered who these new-style profiteers are. The 2020 Spring lockdown created fresh opportunities for fraud: the short-time working scam. In the suburbs of Paris, Sonia, a sales rep for an on-line car sales business, spent over two months off work to look after a child. And yet this young woman never stopped working. Sales targets, phone call records, performance bonus… impossible for this mother of a little girl to avoid her employer’s orders. “We thought we were teleworking till the end of March,” she recalls “but at the end of March we get a mail from the CEO telling us: ‘change of plan, we’ve put you on working from home, partial unemployment’. That took us all by surprise. We didn’t think it sounded quite right.” In this way, Sonia’s employer got the salaries of his 90 employees paid by the State, thus scamming several hundreds of thousands of Euros in two months. A fraud that is so widespread that it has forced the government to mobilize its services to hunt down the fraudsters.