It is one of the immutable laws of society: as soon as there is a law, a regulation or an obligation, there will be someone who will want to exempt themselves from it. And he’ll probably find another person to help him. With the travel restrictions linked to Covid-19, Europol is issuing an alert: criminal organizations could want to take the opportunity to sell false certificates of negative Covid-19 test.
Several arrests in Europe, and a Europol alert
After having identified and arrested several criminals who have sold or tried to sell false certificates of negative Covid-19 tests, Europol is launching a real alert. All over Europe, including France, networks are being organized to allow unscrupulous travelers, even contaminated in the worst case, to circumvent the regulations in force.
The trend could strengthen as more countries restrict travel; France, for example, now requires a negative Covid-19 test from nationals of countries in the European area. “ It is very likely that criminals will seize the opportunity to produce and sell fake Covid-19 test certificates as long as travel restrictions are maintained due to the pandemic », Warns Europol.
A variable cost … sometimes cheaper than the Covid-19 test itself
False certificates are a real problem: restrictive travel measures aim to protect countries from a possible pandemic recovery linked to imported cases, in particular of the British variant of Sars-CoV-2, which is more contagious.
But some individuals might be tempted by these certificates, because of their price. If in France the Covid test is free because it is paid for by the government, this is not the case everywhere: it costs 50 euros in Germany, 60 euros in Belgium and even 128 euros in Spain.
Forged certificates, they have a price that varies in relation to the quality of the counterfeit: in November 2020, in France, a network selling false certificates between 150 euros and 300 euros was dismantled, while we can find some for less than 50 euros on the Internet. Cheaper, therefore, than the price of the test… plus the (theoretical) guarantee of being able to travel.