EUROPOL WARNS OF GANGS SELLING FAKE CLEAR VIRUS TESTS

Criminal gangs are selling fake COVID-19 test certificates, with cases already emerging of fraudulent COVID-19 test certificates being sold to travellers, according to Europol.

Europol has said that a forgery ring selling negative test results to passengers was dismantled at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Meanwhile, in the UK, fraudsters were caught selling bogus COVID-19 documents for £100. In December 2020, a fraudster was apprehended by Spanish police for selling fake test results for €40.

Europol has received additional intelligence on the alleged use of a mobile application by the so-called ‘Rathkeale Rovers’ mobile organised crime gang, which allows members of the  group to manually falsify test results.

The gang, originally from Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, are mostly based in the UK. Some gang members have previous convictions for money laundering, smuggling, drug trafficking and burglary.

“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,” Europol has warned.

EU member states are encouraged to share any relevant information on criminal activities related to fake COVID-19 test documentation with Europol.Many countries, including Ireland, have introduced legislation requiring proof of a recent negative test before allowing travellers into the country.

Europol believes production and sales of fake test certificates will prevail as long as travel restrictions remain in place, and it has said that passengers can pay from €150 up to €300 for a fake certificate.