COVID-19 Scams: How People are Using Fake COVID-19 Certificates to Bypass Travel Guidelines

As the coronavirus travel ban  lifts in many countries, people will be scrambling to travel the world. However, travelers are required to conform to strict travel restrictions, including presenting results of a negative COVID-19 test.

But some travelers are trying to circumvent the rules. They present fake negative coronavirus test certificates to board flights and travel.

Travel requirements

According to a UNWTO travel restrictions report, 70% of global destinations have eased travel restrictions previously imposed in response to the coronavirus’s spread.  Other destinations have remained fully closed to foreign tourists.

Most of these countries which eased their travel restrictions did so to encourage the recovery of the hard-hit tourism sector.

Most countries require that tourists:

  • Present a negative coronavirus test taken within a predetermined time before the flight,
  • Submit to a COVID-19 test upon arrival, or
  • Accept to be quarantined for a period between 7 and 14 days.

Many travelers comply with these restrictions and provide genuine test results or postpone their travel until they are healthy enough to travel.  Unfortunately, others violate these regulations by presenting fake certificates showing negative COVID-19 results.

Why it’s happening

It’s shocking to imagine that the traveler sitting next to you could be carrying a fake COVID-19 certificate and may likely have the virus.  This raises the question of why someone would intentionally violate restrictions meant to keep everyone safe.

Some people turn to the black market for their COVID-19 test certificates to avoid going for a test and risking a positive outcome. Others do so for the ease and convenience of acquiring the certificate. For example, instead of taking a test within 72 hours before their flights, some travelers may buy fake certificates a few hours before their flight.

For example, a traveler might forge a friend’s negative coronavirus test certificate, editing out his friend’s name and adjusting the dates to meet the travel requirements.

Some also cite difficulties obtaining a test, especially for emergency travel.  In turn, they purchase fake certificates from the black market or create them themselves. Others may find that their legitimate COVID-19 test certificate is insufficient for some airlines that require passengers to take a test at a private clinic.

People caught using or selling fake certificates could face criminal consequences, including heavy fines and incarceration.

The use of these fake certificates poses a risk to public health.  This is because people bearing these certificates are more likely to have COVID-19.  They pose a much higher risk of exposing others to the virus.

Countries with high instances of using fake certificates also risk a ban on their citizens and residents from traveling to certain destinations.

Staying safe

RKN Global emphasizes that countries need to adopt cutting-edge measures to manage and track travelers and their COVID-19 certificates.  This will give them stronger tools to detect fake certificates and enforce consequences, creating a powerful deterrent effect.



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