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Europol warning on illicit sale of false negative COVID-19 test certificates

Christian Fernsby |
To contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, an increasing number of countries in the EU and beyond are obliging passengers to present a proof of negative COVID-19 test to be allowed entry when travelling from a high-risk area.

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The measure generally concerns passengers travelling by air and in some cases, international train and coach traffic.

Several cases - also confirmed by Member States - have emerged in open sources of fraudulent COVID-19 test certificates being sold to travellers.

The latest case of detected bogus test certificates was reported from Luton Airport in the UK when a man was arrested trying to sell false COVID-19 test certificates.

Earlier reports included the arrest of a forgery ring at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris selling forged negative test results to passengers.

The amount charged for the fake test documents ranged between EUR 150 to EUR 3002.

Intelligence suggests that in the UK, fraudsters were caught selling bogus COVID-19 test documents for GBP 100, faking the name of a genuine laboratory on the false certificates.

In December 2020, a fraudster was apprehended by the Spanish National Police for selling false negative PCR certificates on the surface web for an amount of EUR 404.

In the Netherlands, scammers were discovered selling fake negative test statements for EUR 50-60 through messaging apps.

. Europol received additional information on the alleged use of a mobile phone application by an Irish organised crime group, which allows members of the group to manually falsify test results.

Given the widespread technological means available, in the form of high-quality printers and different software, fraudsters are able to produce high-quality counterfeit, forged or fake documents.

Member States are encouraged to share any relevant information on criminal activities related to fake COVID-19 test documentation with Europol.

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