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COVID Passport Verification To Overcome Surging Pandemic Scams

The world is still experiencing the strain of the coronavirus pandemic as new variants are surfacing and restrictions are becoming increasingly stringent. The adverse situation is further augmented with a corresponding spike in COVID scams including fake vaccination certificates and misleading claims for potential cures.

With every public place asking to provide evidence of vaccination and negative test reports, fraudsters get the opportunity to create their own test results, bogus vaccines, and fake certificates. A man in China was arrested in a fake vaccine scam, who reportedly made $2.78 million by selling mineral water in vaccine syringes.

COVID Restrictions Fueling New Scams

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) indicated over 4.7 million reports about COVID scams in 2020. Although COVID vaccines are now proven to be safe and there are no health risks, scammers are still going for fake vaccine cards as a shortcut. While this may or may not be a health risk to themselves, it can endanger others in public places and during air travel.

Recently, Pfizer (pharmaceutical corporation) claimed that anti-wrinkle solutions were used instead of vaccines due to the lack of COVID passport verification. Just when vaccinated individuals were taking a sigh of relief, the delta variant of COVID-19 and the regularly updated restrictions to verify vaccination certificates are crushing the newly gained optimism. The absence of substantial COVID certificate verification only adds to the problematic situation, making the system vulnerable to scams.

Fake test reports are surfacing and unauthorized COVID vaccine certificates have been confiscated at airports in the UK and UAE. These fake vaccine cards are being sold by fraudsters and people who face difficulty in actually getting vaccinated resort to simply purchasing them. Manual verification of these COVID vaccine certificates isn’t really proving to be effective in preventing COVID fraud, as the smartly altered vaccine certificates are not recognized.

COVID Passport — A Unified Document

Considering the chaotic situation involving manual COVID certificate verification and the resultant scams, COVID passports have been formulated as proof of vaccination. Since regular paper certificates and test reports are already being altered, COVID passports incorporate QR codes to represent vaccine status and COVID-19 protection. These QR codes can be alternatively availed through email or mobile apps.

Proof of Identity

Along with COVID passport verification, individuals are required to provide proof of identity unless they are below 16 (depending on the region). Apart from presenting the COVID passport containing the QR code, an identity document with the individual’s photo is required. For older citizens (above 75), there is slight relaxation regarding the photo.

Vaccination Status

COVID passports represent the individual’s vaccination status and allow the respective authorities to determine the complete information about the vaccine name and the dates when each dose was administered. The predominant globally accepted COVID-19 vaccines are Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Covishield. If travellers and event attendees are proven to be completely vaccinated (first or second dose depending on the vaccine) with these authorized vaccines, the scanning of their COVID passport will indicate that they are completely protected.

Why COVID Passport Verification is Necessary

The absence of COVID passport verification has resulted in the previously mentioned scams as well as making it difficult for certain countries to observe internal COVID regulations. The consequent absence of COVID passport verification leads to fraud involving COVID vaccine information. The WHO (World Health Organization) has reported low-quality issues in medicine affecting the lives of people in African countries, North and South America, Asia, and Europe.

Moreover, unsatisfactory medicine standards are not the only peril, as surging reports also indicate the damage caused by the creation and sale of fake COVID vaccine certificates. In countries like Australia, these fake certificates are being sold for over $120. Fraudsters are seen to go as far as attempting to register fake vaccines in order to circulate them.

Considering the aforementioned situation, digital measures are now being deployed to counter these COVID-related frauds. COVID passport verification is being implemented in both country-wide and international applications where a necessary COVID-free environment must be ensured.

As mentioned previously, COVID passport verification provides convenience to the individuals and the authorities at the same time, while keeping the COVID vaccine information confidential and intact. For this reason, COVID passport verification is being considered to be incorporated as part of standard procedure in many countries around the world.

COVID Restrictions — The Highs and Lows

Although COVID passports are being used in various countries across Europe, the requirements differ from place to place. It is therefore essential to check the respective region’s rules and regulations regarding COVID passports before booking tickets. Entering certain countries (like Denmark) require COVID passport verification, although private firms and institutions are seen to amend the requirements regarding the verification. In any case, a valid COVID passport is becoming a necessary item to carry along with identification cards.

According to the regulations in Denmark, COVID passports are made eligible only for those individuals who fulfil necessary obligations. These include the number of days (42) after the first dose of vaccination and the validation of COVID passport in case of a single-dose vaccine. Additionally, negative COVID test results are required with time limits depending on the test. In the case of a PCR test, it must not be longer than 96 hours and the time limit for RAT (rapid antigen test) is 72 hours.

The Bottom Line

The afore-mentioned spike in COVID-related frauds has accounted for an urgency to implement digital COVID passport verification. Taking advantage of the vulnerable verification system, fraudsters create smart ways to commit scams that were previously unheard of.

They alter significant information in COVID certificates and sell them on the dark web for large sums. Considering this situation, COVID passport verification is being implemented in various regions to subdue vaccine certificate scams. The automated authentication process helps determine whether the vaccination information is real and hence prevents further health hazards.

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Candice Spencer

Candice Spencer

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Researcher, Fraud Preventer, Traveller, Reader, Writer, Thinker :)