PARIS, April 20 (UPI) -- A group of organized criminals tried to defraud the office of French President Nicholas Sarkozy of nearly $3 million, the Elysee Palace revealed Wednesday.
Christian Fremont, Sarkozy's chief of staff, said the criminals got hold of the office's bank details, France 24 reported.
On April 14, they sent a "bill" for $3 million for official travel to Sarkozy's office that was to be paid into a Chinese account. Fremont said the money wasn't transferred because the claim didn't have the correct security codes.
Before targeting Sarkozy's office, the criminals managed to defraud a state agency that provides holiday vouchers to companies of $1.4 million.
Authorities said they sent a fake demand for a wire transfer March 25 to the agency along with a fake mobile telephone number they said belonged to the agency director.
A French treasury official rang the number for confirmation and then authorized transferring the money to a bank in China.
French police have opened an investigation of both cases.