Fraudulent websites selling air quality windscreen stickers have sprung up in France, even as the country remains gripped by high pollution levels accompanying an agonising heat wave.
France introduced the stickers (vignettes Crit'Air) in 2016 to classify vehicles according to their pollutant emissions. They have since become indicators of which vehicles should stay off the roads on peak pollution days when authorities invoke restricted traffic rules.
Certain agglomerations have restricted traffic in the past week to curb pollution. The same period has seen an emergence of at least a dozen swindling websites, which show up on top of lists of search engines.
The bogus websites have been charging more than the stipulated €3.62 for stickers. What's worse is that some people have become victims of internet scams using their bank information left behind on the sites.
The only site to trust is the one set up by the French government. After filling in the characteristics of the vehicle such as car type, registration and date of entry into circulation, the sticker is sent to you for a price of €3.62, which includes shipping costs.
The colour- and number-coded tickers come in six categories, from the least polluting vehicles (electric or hydrogen) to the most polluting.
The official Air Quality Certification Service website has warned against such scams, urging victims to report them to the General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control.