Criminal gangs in Europe are producing and selling fake negative COVID-19 test certificates in airports and online, according to Europol, the bloc's police cooperation and coordination agency.
"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," Europol said in a statement Monday.
We're #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus.— Europol (@Europol) February 1, 2021
But it seems criminals will do anything to exploit the pandemic:
🧪fake negative test results.
Out now: our latest update on counterfeit negative COVID-19 test certificates.https://t.co/HNl0ekF6Og
"Given the widespread technological means available, in the form of high-quality printers and different software, fraudsters can produce high-quality counterfeit, forged, or fake documents … Member states should be vigilant," Europol continued.
Europol issued the alert after member states reported heighten criminal activity at multiple airports of gangs selling false coronavirus test results for hundreds of euros.
For instance, police arrested one suspect at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for selling fake test results for up to 300 euros apiece. There have been similar busts in Spain, Netherlands, and at Luton Airport near London.
Dutch daily newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported that popular messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Snapchat, are seeing the increased activity of criminal organizations selling fake PCR test certificates, along with forged signatures of real doctors. The tests sell for around 50 euros, compared with an official test that costs about 150 euros.
All of this comes as EU countries have restricted travel across the continent and request travelers to present negative virus tests before boarding.