Europol has issued a warning today that criminal groups are peddling fake negative COVID-19 test results to the desperate travelers at EU airports.
The criminals are cashing in on the coronavirus crisis by charging up to €300 ($362) for each of the COVID-19 negative test certificate that are now widely needed for air travel.
The EU’s policing agency said on Monday that several suspects were recently arrested selling the fraudulent papers at airports in France and the UK. The gangs had been selling the fake negative tests online and via messaging chats in Spain and the Netherlands, it said.
As part of ongoing pandemic-related restrictions internationally, a growing number of countries and airlines require passengers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before allowing them travel.
“As long as travel restrictions remain in place due to the pandemic, it is very likely that criminals will seize the opportunity of producing and selling fake COVID-19 test certificates,” Europol warned EU member states.
In one case, police arrested a suspect at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for selling forged tests for between €150 and €300 apiece. Another bust was made at Luton Airport near London, while authorities in Spain and the Netherlands have made similar arrests.
“Intelligence suggests that in the UK, fraudsters were caught selling bogus COVID-19 test documents for £100 ($136), faking the name of a genuine laboratory on the false certificates,” Europol said.