According to the police in Lower Saxony and Bremen, cases of forged vaccination passports have risen sharply in recent weeks. As a result, several hundred preliminary investigations are ongoing in the two federal states. “It can be assumed that the number of cases could rise again due to the tightened 2G rules,” said a spokeswoman for the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) in Hanover to the German press agency. For a few days now, the 2G rule has been in effect in many areas of public life in Lower Saxony and Bremen. Only those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered are allowed. Unvaccinated people want to circumvent the measures by showing forged vaccination certificates, it said.
According to the LKA, the Lower Saxony security authorities have recorded a continuous increase in cases of forged vaccination passports over the past few months – with the number of cases having recently increased “sharply”. From January to October, the officials recorded cases in the lower three-digit range – including forged blank vaccination cards and total forgeries. The LKA Lower Saxony pointed out, however, that the number of cases changed from day to day. In addition, offenses are registered as so-called arrests. A arrest could result in a large number of false vaccination certificates.
No QR code on fake passport
Upon request, the police in Bremen reported that there are currently 56 criminal charges relating to forged vaccination cards. There, too, a significant increase has recently been observed. “The number of criminal charges is increasing, we identified eleven cases at this time a month ago,” said a Bremen police spokeswoman. There, too, the investigations into forgeries and perpetrators are ongoing.
According to the authorities, it is primarily pharmacists who recognize the forged passports – for example when people there apply for a digital vaccination certificate with the documents. But security services, for example on the Bremen Freimarkt, had noticed the forged documents. As a rule, there are fake stickers or stamps on the fake vaccination cards – overall, however, the fakes are difficult to recognize, said the LKA spokeswoman. “Unlike identity cards, for example, vaccination records have no specific security features.” The police are therefore assuming a high number of unreported cases.
The security authorities warn not to publish any photos of real vaccination passports, for example in social networks, on which batch numbers of the vaccines can be recognized. These would be used by counterfeiters as templates in order to offer forged vaccination cards for sale on the Internet. Back in the spring, forged vaccination cards were offered, among other things, in the Telegram messenger service for 99 to 250 euros. Anyone discovering such offers should report them to the police and the network operator. “Not only the perpetrators commit a crime, but also the buyer. Anyone who uses such a forged vaccination certificate is liable to prosecution for forging documents,” said the Bremen police spokeswoman.
According to the Ministry of Justice, it is not known how many proceedings in Lower Saxony courts are currently running on forged vaccination passports. Most recently, however, cases in Wolfsburg and Osnabrück had been negotiated. Up until a few days ago, public prosecutors and judges still had different assessments of whether or not submitting a falsified corona vaccination certificate was a criminal offense. In October, the Osnabrück district court saw a “criminal liability loophole”, while the three public prosecutor’s offices in the state also assumed criminal liability under the previous legal situation.
Counterfeiting is a criminal offense
However, this uncertainty has been eliminated with the entry into force of the new Infection Protection Act in recent days, said the Ministry of Justice. “If there was a criminal liability loophole at all, this has been closed beyond any doubt by the new law.” In the new regulation, in addition to vaccination cards, test and recovery certificates are placed under criminal protection.
Lower Saxony’s Justice Minister Barbara Havliza sees progress in the new regulation, but also shortcomings: “I welcome the fact that, following the decision of the Federal Council, the criminal liability for unauthorized or incorrect issuing of vaccination cards and their use has now been reorganized. It is good that we have corrected the weak point pointed out by the Osnabrück regional court so quickly, “said the CDU politician. “I agree, however, that the traffic light draft that has been decided upon has weaknesses, especially with regard to the criminal offense.”