Travelers Are Buying Fake COVID-19 Test Results on the Black Market
Travelers desperate to cross borders are buying fake coronavirus test results or falsifying their own in an attempt to bypass regulations. Instead, they're instead finding themselves in trouble with the law.
As the new wave of the coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, with more than 51 million cases and 1.27 million deaths globally according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, many countries are requiring negative COVID-19 test results upon arrival. Meanwhile, travelers anxious to get back on the road have been turning to counterfeit test results, according to The Washington Post.
After a passenger checked in to a flight from Paris to Addis Ababa in September using fake documents, French officials discovered the false certificates were being sold at Charles de Gaulle Airport for 150 to 300 euros ($180 to $360), the Associated Press reported. Last week, seven people were arrested, each facing up to five years in prison plus a fine of 375,000 euros ($445,000), if convicted.
Over in England, a man from Blackburn told the Lancashire Telegraph how easy it was to get counterfeit test results marked negative and simply change the name, birthdate, and testing date. “You download the email, change it, and then print it,” the source who chose to be anonymous said.
He saw it as a necessary means to get around the system since he needed to fly to Pakistan: “People are doing this as you can’t get a COVID test if you have to travel to Pakistan in case of an emergency,” he said. “It is difficult to get one unless you are a key worker. If you put down you have symptoms, then you don’t get the test. How can you travel then?”
The Lancashire Telegraph reported that fake documentation was being sold for 150 pounds (about $200) in Branford and 50 pounds (about $65) in Blackburn.
The counterfeit trend was also spotted in the Southern Hemisphere last week, when four Brazilian tourists were jailed after falsifying the date on their COVID-19 tests to visit Brazil’s archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. Officials called the lab and discovered that the testing dates didn’t match up.
Around the globe, authorities are on top of the forgery trend and finding direct ways to transmit results, so that falsified documentation doesn’t slip through the system. In Hawaii, for example, only results from approved testing partners will be accepted, and they must be transmitted digitally. Meanwhile, United Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways have been using a new called app CommonPass, currently in a trial run, to centralize health data, lab results, and vaccination data.
According to USA Today, as of now, counterfeit test results don’t seem to be as common in the United States because of widespread access to COVID-19 testing. Instead, the issues here are linked to fake testing sites set up to steal personal information.