Italian Police Seize Fake Covid Passes in Nationwide Raids

A bar owner uses the VerifyC19 mobile phone application to scan a Green Pass in central Rome on August 6, 2021, as Italy made the Green Pass, which is an extension of the EU's digital Covid certificate, required from today to enter cinemas, museums and indoor sports venues, or eat …

Italian State Police, on behalf of the Naples Prosecutor’s Office, have conducted 40 searches and made 67 seizures of fake coronavirus health passes, identifying at least 120 buyers of the forgeries.

The passes, which were sold online for as little as 120-200 euros (£102-170/$135-225), were created after criminals were able to exploit weaknesses in the country’s health pass system, known in Italy as the Green Pass.

According to a report from the newspaper Il Giornale, the passes were created with codes available to pharmacies to generate new Green Passes. The codes had been stolen using an email phishing tactic in which criminals sent emails linking to a clone of an institutional website.

Others are said to have used internet-based VOIP calling to mask their phone number so as to replace it with the phone number of Italian regional health institutions and have pharmacists install malicious software on their computers.

Investigators say they have identified at least 120 people who have bought the forged Green Passes in Naples, Milan, Messina, Rome, Trento, and other areas. The actual number of people who have purchased the forged Green Passes is estimated to be much higher, however.

The police searches come just weeks after an Italian man attempted to acquire a Green Pass not by ordering a forged copy, but by wearing a prosthetic arm during his vaccination appointment in an effort to avoid actually taking the jab. The man claimed that he required the Green Pass in order to work but did not want to take the vaccine.

Countries across Europe that have implemented Covid passes have also had to deal with a surge in fake and forged passes being sold online.

In France, investigators have opened 400 cases into networks that provide fake health passes, some of which allegedly have links to healthcare professionals, according to the country’s  Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

In some cases, the health passes of political figures have been leaked online, including France’s President Emmanuel Macron. A teen in Marseilles was arrested in October after using the French president’s personal QR code when trying to enter a local hospital.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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