COVID-19 Scams: Fake COVID-19 Certificates for Travel

Negative COVID-19 test results are a requirement for domestic and international travel.  They are essential for nations attempting to reestablish the economy while preventing an increase in new coronavirus infections. However, the need for these tests has led to a thriving black market. This enables travelers to easily purchase a fake COVID-19 negative test certificate.

The Rise of Fake COVID-19 Vaccine Documents

As countries vaccinate their citizens, criminals are catching up and cashing in by developing and selling fake vaccination documents for travelers. The black market now provides an editable template of fake vaccine certificates that travelers can fill in.

These documents are yet to be digitized and centralized, making it harder to verify their authenticity. To make the matter worse, criminals use sophisticated technologies and measures to produce high-quality fraudulent documents.

The growing use of fake COVID-19 documents poses a direct threat to travel. Some of the common repercussions include:

Travel Bans

Countries that re-opened their borders for travel amidst the crisis did so with the hope that the restrictions in place would prevent an increase in COVID-19 cases related to travel. However, as more people continue to use fake travel documents, the restrictions do not serve their purpose as travelers with the virus could still travel.

Countries considering reopening their borders might delay the measures. Others might ban travel to prevent the importation of travel-related infections.

These travel bans could hurt immigrant workers and expats from certain regions. For example, the Taiwanese government expressed its distrust towards COVID-19 results from Indonesian immigrant workers. This happened after more than four-fifths of immigrant workers from Indonesia tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan even after presenting negative COVID-19 certificates.

Health Risk

Some people claim that they use fake COVID-19 documents due to the cost of an independent test. Others claim they had a need for emergency travel.  Yet others are maliciously trying to travel despite their positive diagnosis of coronavirus infection.

By failing to take a test before travel or faking a negative test when one is positive, these individuals risk infecting other travelers. The result is an increase in travel-related COVID-19 infections. Those traveling with fake vaccination certificates put themselves and others at the risk of infection.

Airline workers are also at risk of developing infections while interacting with positive travelers who are gaming the system with fake COVID-19 documents.

Security Threats

Fake COVID-19 certificates pose a security threat to airlines that have set up additional measures to check these certificates’ authenticity. Some of the airlines are using QR code and barcode scanning to verify these documents.

However, these codes could be cloned.  This means that they might appear to lead to a genuine site, but instead lead to a fraudulent website. As a result, the criminals can intercept personal data.

Criminals exploit people’s need for affordable and easy-to-obtain COVID-19 documents.  This gives them funding to carry out other criminal activities, such as hacking sensitive data.


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