Public Health

Criminals attempt to make the most of journey restrictions

Health workers perform a PCR test at a Covid-19 diagnostic center at El Alto International Airport in Bolivia on January 28, 2021.

AIZAR RALDES | AFP | Getty Images

According to Europol, illegal sales of fake negative Covid-19 test results are becoming more common as criminals seek to take advantage of travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

The EU law enforcement agency reported an increase in cases of fraudulent Covid-19 test certificates sold to travelers on Monday. More and more countries in the European Union and beyond are obliging travelers to present a negative coronavirus test in order to gain access when traveling from a high-risk area.

In its latest early warning message, issued by Europol to alert EU member states to new or increasingly widespread forms of criminal activity, the agency said the latest case of the crime was discovered at Luton Airport in the UK, where a man was arrested while trying was selling false coronavirus test results. Elsewhere in the UK, scammers have been caught selling fake Covid-19 test documents for £ 100 ($ 137).

There have also been previous reports of similar activities in other European countries.

For example, a counterfeit ring at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris was “dismantled” after it was discovered that fake negative test results were being sold to passengers, Europol said. The amount for the forged test documents ranged from 150 to 300 euros (181 and 363 US dollars).

Another scammer was arrested in Spain for selling false negative test certificates online for 40 euros, and scammers were discovered in the Netherlands selling fake negative test results for 50-60 euros via messaging apps.

“As long as there are travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 situation, it is very likely that the production and sale of fake test certificates will have priority,” added Europol.

“Given the widespread technological means available in the form of high-quality printers and various software, fraudsters can produce high-quality forged, forged or forged documents.”

Fake test results are just one example of a range of fraudulent activities that emerged during the pandemic. Counterfeit coronavirus test kits were sold and online fraud increased during the health crisis. Criminals exploit millions of people who now work from home.

Other criminals have tried to use government programs to assist people during the pandemic, such as vacation payment systems. In September last year, the UK Revenue Service announced that payments up to £ 3.5 billion could have been fraudulently claimed or made in error under the UK job retention scheme.

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