A woman in southern France who says she is the victim of identity fraud has been hit with fines of more than €10,000 in the past two years.
The issue started in November 2020, when the woman – named Séphora – received a €135 fine for breaking Covid lockdown rules in Pyrénées-Orientales. However, she had not been in the area at the time.
She contested the fine, thinking it was an ‘administrative error’, and it was cancelled.
She later received another fine for the same issue, from Perpignan. Again, she had not been there. She then went to make a complaint at her local gendarmerie – but the nightmare was only just beginning.
A few weeks later, her employer was asked to deduct €375 from her wages, and received the notice twice from the public treasury of Perpignan.
Séphora decided to visit in person to seek clarification on the situation and, she hoped, resolve the issue. However, when she arrived, the office told her that she owed €2,625 in fines in total, for various misdemeanours.
One of the fines was for not showing up to a contrôle technique for a vehicle in Le Boulou, Pyrénées-Orientales. But Séphora had never booked an appointment, does not have a car in Le Boulou, and was actually at work in Narbonne at the time.
The woman tried to contact a lawyer to help with what she believes is a case of stolen identity. But at the time of writing, she has not heard back from the lawyer, nor from the public prosecutor or treasury, both of whom she has also contacted.
Séphora told newspaper La Dépêche: “In June, I got a notice for €1,260 that I have to contest. Then in July, a formal notice for €1,500. Then, in September, October, and November, new sums were requested, and sometimes even taken from my bank account.”
Most recently, she received a call from a bailiff in connection with alleged non-payment of train tickets. She must now visit the public treasury in Toulouse, to contest the fines.
Séphora said that she is exhausted and “profoundly anxious” about the situation.
She said: “I am living in a real nightmare, without knowing when it will end. I don’t understand how the person doing this to me can look at themselves in the mirror. The harm that they are doing to me is immeasurable.”