MADRID, January 25 (Reuters) – Spanish police said on Tuesday they arrested seven suspected members of an international criminal gang that created and sold fake COVID-19 passports and negative tests.
The ring’s Spanish arm, which advertised its services on ‘anti-vax’ IM groups, fraudulently added at least 1,600 people to the national vaccination registry with the help of health workers, it has been revealed investigation.
European Union countries agreed last year to create a standardized COVID certificate with a QR code so those vaccinated and tested can travel and attend events.
This created a demand for counterfeits.
Police arrested six people in Madrid and one in Barcelona, but did not provide further information about them.
They will be prosecuted for forgery in writings and attacks on public health. “The investigation continues into the possible theft of the passwords (of the register),” added the national police in a press release.
The gang divided the customers into two groups based on income and charged 200 euros ($225) or 1,000 euros for a fake COVID vaccination certificate, which would be sent out within two days of payment. A negative PCR test costs 50 euros.
Police are currently investigating the 1,600 people fraudulently added to the register.
Leaders of the organization were operating from France where, unlike most of Spain, a vaccination passport is required to enter public spaces like restaurants or cinemas.
The Spanish police passed all the information to the French authorities.
($1 = 0.8860 euros)
(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Nathan Allen and Andrew Cawthorne)
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