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Coronavirus fraudsters mushroom across the globe

Posted February. 03, 2021 07:35,   

Updated February. 03, 2021 07:35


With massive COVID-19 death tolls sweeping across the world, fraudulent criminal activities, such as fake vaccines and counterfeit documents of test certificates, are spawning.

As many countries are scrambling to secure coronavirus vaccines, fakes vaccines are springing up in China. Hong Kong-based Ming Pao Daily News reported that the Chinese police arrested some 80 criminals and confiscated 3,000 doses of fake vaccine in a COVID-19 crackdown. The Ming Pao reported the confiscated vaccines are a fabricated version of Sinopharm’s covid-19 vaccine, which was filled with saline solution.

According to China’s Xinhua News, the local police in Jiangsu and Shandong conducted a joint operation to raid the factories of fake vaccines, and the plants have been torn down. The manufacturers have been selling fake vaccines through WeChat at a rip-off price. “The arrested must have set up a plan to send the vaccines overseas,” said the Chinese Global Times, quoting an expert interview.  

In Europe, fabricated COVID-negative certificates are on the black market, putting many countries on emergency mode. “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,” said Europol on its website on Monday.

In the U.K., a group of criminals have been nabbed on charge of selling fake certificates for 100 pounds under a false name of public office. Another fraudulent activity was caught in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, selling fake test certificates to tourists for 300 euros. Forged COVID-negative certificates are sold at around 50 to 60 euros through social media and email trading in the Netherlands and Spain.

The spread of COVID-related fraud cases was fueled by the policy in EU nations making it mandatory for tourists to submit a test certificate within 48 hours. “Given the widespread technological means in the form of high-quality printers and different software, fraudsters are able to produce high-quality counterfeit documents,” Europol warned.

Ki-Yong Kim kky@donga.com · Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com