Criminal groups are taking advantage of rising restrictions across the EU to prey on people’s fear and peddle fake Covid passes on social media. With anti-vaccination sentiment increasing in retaliation to the stricter measures being imposed due to the new Omicron variant, business demand has never been higher for the groups creating the frauds.
“For all those who do not wish to be vaccinated, here is an alternative”, is the tagline Sky News found one group to be advertising the passes with. Evidence of the fakes was found in at least nine different European countries via social media, and the types seen could be used to ‘prove’ vaccination status for entry to the UK.
There is strong evidence that medical officials are using their legitimate access to the pass systems to create fakes for criminals to sell on. The Head of the Italian Police Cybercrime Unit, Riccardo Croce, said they are linking the increase in vaccine disinformation online to the role it plays in selling the fake Covid passes.
“We have recently seen the phenomenon of selling fake Covid passes, and the selling of real Covid passes that belong to other people. This trend of selling fake passes is increasing”, he said. “These people selling fake passes push disinformation to encourage people to commit an illegal act and buy a fake pass. They use the ideology of all being activists and working towards the same goal.”
The EU Covid Certificate is a QR code that can be used to grant access to various venues and to cross borders by showing that the holder is fully vaccinated, recently recovered, or has a negative test result in the previous few days. The adverts claiming that fake passes can be bought are easily found on various social media sites.
The fake Covid passes are advertised for around €300 and the advertisements state that payment can be made in traditional currency or in Crypto-Currency such as Bitcoin. Police warn that as well as being illegal, some of the ads may well be scams in which people never receive what they pay their money out for.
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