Investigators of the Catalan police (the Mossos d’Esquadra) have arrested staff from a travel agency in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, and also reported an employee from an agency in Mataró for allegedly forging Covid-19 test documents. Both municipalities are near Barcelona.
The travel agencies are suspected of operating a service providing counterfeit documents to customers wishing to travel abroad – enabling them to undertake international trips without having to pay for, or undergo, PCR tests.
In Santa Coloma de Gramenet, PCR certificates were seized by police from an agency in the Fondo district this week. After consulting with a local laboratory, it was determined that the certificates had been forged. The falsified test results had also been post-dated to March – the month the agency’s clients were due to travel. Following the discovery, three staff members were arrested on charges of forgery. Another 12 people are under investigation for requesting the falsified test results.
On Wednesday, police in Mataró also received information on counterfeit PCRs provided by an agency in the Rocafonda district. Mossos commissioner Joan Carles Molinero said that the Mataró police station received a call from a person who had wanted to book a trip through the agency, and said that they had offered him a false certificate of a negative PCR test in exchange for €85. The subsequent police investigation resulted in the seizure of 15 forged documents.
Further analysis revealed scammers had taken official certificates from laboratories to modify the data, names, and results for their customers, as well as post-dating the documents to the month of March. A total of 15 people in Mataró are under investigation for requesting the false certificates.
Commissioner Molinero added that so far this year, 85 pandemic-related scams have been detected by police – 54 in January and 31 in February. Aimed mainly at medical centres and nursing homes, scammers frequently ask money over the phone in exchange for medical supplies, protection equipment and even vaccines – which, in turn, are never delivered. He has issued a reminder that vaccines cannot be bought or sold, as they are solely provided by the Department of Health.