2 Estonians arrested in France for selling fake French test certificates

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France’s border police (PAF) arrested two Estonians on April 2, on suspicion of selling fake French test certificates intended for people seeking naturalization.

The two men, aged 37 and 41, allegedly produced and sold the fake certificates between 2021 and 2022, SchengenVisaInfo reports.

According to Le Parisien newspaper, the suspects, who live in Essonne, have been arrested at their home. During the search, the police found several fake certificates and thousands of euros in cash.

After his arrest, he was brought to the Évry-Courcouronnes court for an urgent hearing on 4 April. The two arrested men are accused of “fraud,” “money laundering,” “hidden work,” and “forged possession of administrative documents.”

A months-long investigation led to the arrest of 2 suspects.

Suspicion first arose in 2023 when Esun Prefecture submitted a report to the Office to Combat Illegal Migrant Trafficking. Six certificates of successful completion of the French Assessment Test (TEF) attract the attention of the authorities. The TEF is a necessary step for all foreigners who wish to obtain French citizenship.

However, the authorities discovered that these six certificates submitted between 2021 and 2022 were fake.

Police continued their investigation and later discovered that Paris and Seine-Saint-Denis prefectures had also experienced similar problems. Additionally, the police detected around 15 cases in which certificates were produced before they were forged.

Officials have also interviewed the beneficiaries regarding this issue. During the investigation, two suspects of Estonian origin attracted the attention of the police. The latter then discovered repeated telephone communications that further supported his suspicions.

A source close to the investigation told Parisien that the suspects “will be well established in the Malay community and are known to provide false documents and help submit files to the prefecture”.

After months of investigation, police arrested two suspects on April 2, 2024. After an urgent hearing two days later, the court ordered the case adjourned, and it will be heard in the coming weeks.

In 2022, about 60,000 people acquired French citizenship.

According to Statista data, 59,904 foreigners obtain French citizenship by naturalization. This figure represents a 19 percent decrease from the previous year, when more than 74,000 people obtained French citizenship.

Overall, according to the same source, the number of acquisitions of French nationality through naturalization has decreased since 1999. Since then, the highest number was seen in 2005, with more than 89,000 aliens naturalized.

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