The Spanish National Police have announced they have arrested seven suspected members of an international criminal gang that created and sold forged COVID-19 passports and negative tests.
The criminal gang operated in Spain and France, advertising their services on “anti-vax” instant message groups and social media sites.
The gang quickly built a successful network and were able to fraudulently add “at least 1,600 people to the national vaccination register with the help of health workers”, according to the police statement, released today, Tuesday 25th January.
Last year, the European Union agreed to create a standardized COVID certificate with a QR code so vaccinated and PCR positive people could travel and attend events.
This created a demand for forgeries across the EU member state countries.
La organización habría captado a personal sanitario para acceder al registro y se continúa investigando por el posible robo de claves pic.twitter.com/V3G36FGoOE
— Policía Nacional (@policia) January 25, 2022
Six people have been arrested in Madrid and one in Barcelona.
The detainees were charged with document forgery and offences against public health. “The investigation continues into the possible theft of passwords to (the register),” read the police statement.
The gang divided customers into two groups based on income and charged either 200 Euros or 1,000 Euros for the false vaccination certificate and 50 Euros for a negative PCR test.
Once paid the customers would receive the certificates with two days.
Police are now continuing the investigating into the 1,600 people who were added to the register.
The gang leaders operated from France where, a vaccination passport is required in order to enter public spaces like restaurants or access public transport.
Spanish police passed all the information to French authorities who are conducting their own investigation.