On the Internet dealers offer fake negative Corona test certificates. Research shows that it is easy to enter Germany with it. Politicians from FDP and CDU criticize lack of tight controls and demand mandatory corona tests at airports.
This is what you look like: Corona test certificates. Simple printouts, usually with a logo or stamp.
These notes are important documents. They are supposed to protect us – from new infections by travelers.
But how safe are they, how easy it is to manipulate them and travel with them to Germany?
For example from Rio de Janeiro. The beach of Ipanema. Recordings from January. Crowds without distance – even though the whole of Brazil is virus-variant territory.
Easy entry with forgery
We meet a German who returned from there at the end of January.
He wants to remain undetected, because he entered the country with a self-made corona negative test. He shows us the document and explains that he only had a test in English and is afraid that he will not be able to travel. Therefore he simply wrote himself a certificate in German.
Travel Returners:"I made up the document myself and flew with it. When entering Frankfurt, where the Federal Police waited directly at the door of the plane, I showed the German, homemade copy and was waved through after a very short control."
Simply scan and then process on the PC. This is of course forbidden. Whoever uses such a manipulated test faces a fine or up to one year imprisonment for using an incorrect health certificate.
We ask the Federal Police why a simple forgery like the one used by the man from Brazil was not noticed.
She explains: The officials are trained. How they recognize forgeries, we could for "investigative tactical reasons" say nothing.
Fit-to-Fly by self-test?
On the Internet, we discover the offer of an online provider together with a recognized laboratory from Austria. The company promises a "fit-to-fly certificate" for foreign travel – by a throat PCR test at home. These are also recognized in Germany.
We order three test kits, want to know how easily the result can be manipulated.
On the document for the test we enter the name of a woman and mark the gender "female" to.
Then my colleague spits into the tube. I wonder if this will attract attention?
Then we take a sample from her – dog lady Debby. She goes along willingly.
And in the last tube we just fill tap water.
Then each sample, together with the details of the person for whom the certificate is to be issued, is put in a bag and sent to the post office. Now we just have to wait and see if we will be issued Corona certificates for these samples.
Trade with forged negative certificates
But it can also be done without a test. Completely fictitious documents are sold all over the world. At vacation resorts, but especially in Eastern Europe.
Example Russia. In the messenger service "Telegram we find dealers who offer negative tests. We pretend to be interested customers.
Reporter: "Hello. I need a negative test certificate to enter Germany. Is this possible?"
Negative test provider:"Of course. For the certificate we only need some personal data."
Reporter: "And with it, you can safely enter Germany?"
Negative test vendors:"No matter where. Even to the USA or Cuba. There were never any problems."
We order online. Then we ask a colleague in Moscow to pay the test for us anonymously at a deposit machine – the equivalent of 17 euros. It’s about half the cost of a real test.
A short time later he has the negative Corona test on his cell phone – including stamp, signature and QR code.
Fake tests like this are popping up all over Europe. Europol and also the German police report on it:
Example: Police arrest a suspected gang of counterfeiters at Paris airport in November. On her smartphones she finds more than 200 fake test certificates.
At the end of February, the police stop a van with Ukrainian license plates at the border with Poland. All six travelers have a fake test certificate.
Professional counterfeiters in Ukraine
How to get such a test in Ukraine, a colleague from Kiev investigates for us. She finds numerous offers, open and blunt on the Internet. For about 18 euros she orders a fake test. A few days later she can pick up the document at a post office. The test looks highly official – with colored stamp and signature.
Shortly after she calls the provider for us.
Asks why he is dealing with illegal documents.
Reporter: "Don’t have a guilty conscience if you sell these certificates and thus put people in danger?"
Negative test providers: "You see, we let our customers know that the certificates are not registered."
Reporter: "I mean the people who can be infected by those who bought your fake certificates…"
Then the dealer just hangs up.
Back in Germany. The test results of the gargle test have arrived:
As a reminder, we had sent samples from a fake person, dog and water to the lab.
Result: For all three samples we get a negative Corona test certificate in each case. This would allow three people to travel without ever having given a saliva sample.
Laboratory sees need for action
We confront the lab with our research. The company explains in writing:
Analysis laboratory:"It is not possible for us as a pure laboratory to determine who sent the samples."
Analysis laboratory:"Verification of identity and proof that the person has also given the sample (…) is the responsibility of the sender."
The lab announces immediate measures. And explains:
Analysis laboratory:"Identity must be verified by video recording or personal observation."
The online service also announces reforms.
Politicians criticize lack of controls
We summarize: Manipulated samples, fake test certificates from Eastern Europe, and on top of that, only a fraction of travelers are checked to see if they have them with a valid negative Corona test.
This is the result of a small inquiry of the FDP parliamentary group, which is exclusively available to REPORT MAINZ.
The FDP now calls for a better security concept for travelers:
Bernd Reuther, FDP, Member of the Bundestag: "Control all who enter. Create data basis. And the third point: tests at the airports, we have to test, test, test."
Patrick Sensburg of the CDU also calls for consistent testing of all travel returnees.
Prof. Patrick Sensburg
Prof. Partrick Sensburg, CDU, Member of the Bundestag:"I believe that in Germany, when you come back, you have to do a mandatory test at airports when entering the country. By the way, this already existed in the fall of last year and has been discontinued again. This is logistically possible."
We ask the responsible ministers Jens Spahn and Horst Seehofer.
The Ministry of Health does not answer our questions concretely in most cases. The Ministry of the Interior states that it is aware of the forgeries, but does not see any need for further action at this time.
A concept is missing
Frankfurt Airport Test Center. Here we confirm that it would be possible to test all travelers and also create forgery-proof certificates.
Conclusion: In order to travel during the pandemic, all travelers have to be tested. Technology and the capacities for it are there.