It’s believed that an Irish Criminal Gang have been identified as allegedly being involved.

As long as travel restrictions remain in place due to the pandemic, it is very likely that criminals will seize the opportunity of producing and selling fake COVID-19 test certificates, warns a Europol Early Warning Notification published today.

Several cases have already emerged of fraudulent COVID-19 test certificates being sold to travellers:

  • A forgery ring selling negative test results to passengers was dismantled at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France;
  • In the UK, fraudsters were caught selling bogus COVID-19 documents for GBP 100;
  • In December 2020, a fraudster was apprehended by the Spanish National Police for selling fake test results for EUR 40.

Europol received additional intelligence on the alleged use of a mobile application by the Rathkeale Rovers Mobile Organised Crime Group which allows members of the organised crime 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 c
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.

Information from Europol

Background

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

What is happening?

Several cases 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 UK1 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 certificates3. 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 intelligence on the alleged use of a mobile application by the Rathkeale Rovers Mobile Organised Crime Group which allows members of the organised crime group to manually falsify test results.

Why is this relevant?

Europol Public Information

The detection of fake COVID-19 negative test certificates confirms that criminals – be it organised crime groups or individual opportunistic scammers – seize profitable opportunities once they arise. As long as travel restrictions remain in place due to the COVID-19 situation, it is highly likely that production and sales of fake test certificates will prevail. 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.

What do we need from you?

The purpose of this notification is to increase further awareness of the illicit production and sales of fraudulent COVID-19 negative test certificates.
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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