Hundreds of Israelis have returned home from Uman in Ukraine over the past few days with fake negative Covid test documents. At least 200 of them have subsequently tested positive for Covid and have been called in for police questioning. So far more than 20,000 Israelis have returned from Uman and more people are expected to enter Israel with fake negative PCR Covid test results in the coming days. The rate of people testing positive on their return from Uman is 12%, according to Magen David Adom.
Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) has revealed that an Israeli group on Telegram called "Covid vaccination certificates/Covid tests" has become a central focus for the illegal sale of Covid tests and vaccination certificates for those returning from Uman. According to Check Point, the group has been operating since June and in recent weeks has been offering "Negative Covid tests for those returning from Uman." Check Point has passed on the information that it has gathered to Israel Police's 433 Lahav Fraud squad so that they can identify the operators of the group and take legal action against them.
The fee for the negative Covid test, sent in the form of a simple PDF file, is NIS 100. A fake vaccination certificate including a forged QR code costs NIS 300. The Telegram group sells forged Israeli negative test certificates for NIS 200 but because in the case of Uman this is a Ukrainian certificate, the price has been lowered to NIS 100. For a similar price the group is also selling Israeli soldiers fake negative Covid tests by using the IDF Medical Corps format.
Check Point has been monitoring fraudulent activity in the Covid sector since the start of the pandemic. Until December 2020, most of these activities took place on the dark-net. But as demand rose, the focus of activities switched to Telegram with many groups selling fake tests and vaccination certificates in the US, UK, Germany and France. Check Point explains that with the spread of the Delta variant and the opening of skies to international travel, the number of subscribers on Telegram has increased by thousands of percent and use of forged tests has become a global phenomenon.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 12, 2021
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