The sale of fake negative COVID-19 test results is on the rise, owing to mandatory travel restrictions imposed by different regions to curb the spread of the virus.
In recent times, the number of countries demanding travelers to present a negative COVID-19 test certificate as proof of health before being allowed entry has led to high demand for the test.
Owing to the high cost of the tests, ranging from €150 – €300 in the European Union, many who for some reason can not afford the test now turn to alternative means of obtaining results.
The majority of these alternative methods are fraudulent, involving the illicit sales and acquisition of fake negative test results. By implication, even someone who has the coronavirus can obtain such certificates and gain entry into the country, thereby spreading the virus to unsuspecting citizens.
Sadly, this potentially fatal venture is on the rise, with many justifying their patronage with existing financial struggles and the need to make ends meet.
Notwithstanding the reason for engaging in such acts, it does not make the venture any less a criminal offense. The European Union’s law enforcement agency recently reported an increase in the number of people sporting fraudulent negative COVID-19 test results.
Vendors of forged results have also been apprehended in various parts of the world. In Luton Airport, U.K, for instance, Europol officials detained a man for trying to sell a fake coronavirus negative test result.
In the same state, fraudsters vending the COVID-19 test documents at €100 also came to the knowledge of law enforcement.
Paris and Spain have also encountered their fair share of coronavirus test result fraudsters. In Paris, law enforcement agents intercepted a forgery ring at Charles de Gaulle Airport, selling forged negative test documents to passengers, for as low as €150.
Europol reported an incident in Spain, where they apprehended perpetrators for selling test results online for as low as €40. 24-year-old Jessica, who admitted to using and selling such fake results explained the repercussion of the fraud, saying:
“I feel bad now. I’m someone that works within the healthcare sector. So obviously I don’t want that on my conscience. People are getting corona because of me.”
Another perpetrator of the fraud, identified as Louise, insisted she couldn’t care less, as she needed the money to fend for herself and her child as a single mother.
Going further, she noted that unless the system introduced a COVID computer that could detect the origin of each test result, she had no intention of quitting her illicit hustle.
The prevalence of fake negative COVID-19 test results is just one of many fraudulent activities that have come up since the onset of the pandemic. Like this case, other frauds have also preyed on government policies to cash out illegal funds.
Some of these activities include the sale of fake test-kits and PPE gears and the siphoning of funds intended to cover furlough payment/job retention schemes.