March 10. At one of the world’s busiest airports, immigration officials are uncovering fake COVID-19 test results daily by checking the required documentation for misplaced letters and errant vowels.
With global vaccination programs still in early stages, a “negative” COVID-19 test from a local lab is now often necessary for plane travel around the world. But there is no standard form, language or encryption technology for such a certificate.
“Normally the way this type of counterfeit is spotted is an obvious spelling error,” said Lucy Moreton, an official with the Immigration Services Union (ISU), which represents border officials at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Fraudulent test results have been found at airports in Montreal, Paris and Mexico.
Moreton’s ISU officers catch a “reasonable number” of fakes each day. But making various COVID-related record checks can add up to 20 minutes per traveler, raising doubts over Heathrow’s ability to handle an expected surge in summer traffic.
Concerns over wait times and public health risks posed by an embryonic trade in forged results are driving global efforts to produce fraud-resistant COVID-19 certificates that can be read easily across borders.
Photo: Anchorage Daily News