March 30, 2018 / 8:46 AM / 3 months ago

Fraudsters try to use French first lady's identity to secure perks

PARIS (Reuters) - Scam artists used a fake French presidency email address and first lady Brigitte Macron’s name to try and get into fancy restaurants and entertainment venues around the world, prompting the president’s wife to file a complaint for identity theft.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron leave after a national ceremony for late Gendarmerie officer Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, who was killed by an Islamist militant after taking the place of a female hostage during a supermarket siege in Trebes, at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

“A complaint has been lodged and an inquiry is under way,” said an aide to Brigitte Macron, who has lived in the private residence at the Elysee Palace with her husband, Emmanuel, since he was elected in May 2017.

The fraudsters failed in their attempts, the aide added.

News of the scam emerged on RTL radio, which said scores of mails were sent under an address name — mailto:cabinet@presidence.fr, strikingly similar to official ones — requesting among other favours the best table at a plush five-star restaurant and tickets to the Australian Formula 1 grand prix.

Emails had been sent as far afield as Hong Kong and Morocco too, raising concern that the scam may be designed to damage her reputation, said RTL.

French presidential spouses do not enjoy official status in the way that happens in countries like the United States.

But Brigitte Macron does engage informally as an organiser or sponsor of various causes and events; one was a performance of the Peter and the Wolf classical musical where her husband did the narrating for an audience of children at the Elysee.

Reporting by Marine Pennetier; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Richard Lough

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