We all know how critically important a negative COVID test has become. It is the new passport for Hawaii travel, and globally. Without it, we get the “go-directly-to-jail” quarantine card. So it was actually not a big surprise to us that a black market has arisen for counterfeit COVID test results. We first started hearing about this happening in the UK late last month. Since then we’ve learned it has become global, with reports in from France, South America, and elsewhere.
At Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport, a forgery ring is said to have been selling negative test results for up to $360 each. Seven people were charged with fraud and forgery of the negative results certificates that bore the names of actual Paris medical laboratories as the sources.
In Brazil, four travelers were arrest with forged negative test results.
In the UK, one person reportedly forged a friend’s email that contained an actual negative Covid-19 test result. He simply changed the name and other details on the email, printed the now fake Covid-19 test result, took it to the airport, and boarded a flight.
If not weird enough, one of the reports from the UK indicated a traveler was offered a forged test result by their travel agent. Fake test results in the UK varied in price from $65 (for slower results) to $200 (for immediate results).
Hawaii has established its own systems that use digital test results which are more secure than paper. Other states with quarantines each have their own protocols including some that use paper results that can easily be forged. Hawaii bound visitors, however, must use only certain trusted partners, upload their results to a digital portal, then obtain approval QR codes to be used in the travel process. Lt. Gov. Josh Green mentioned some time ago that the state has the ability to verify at least some of those test results.
Hawaii’s SafeTravels is a web-based system, rather than an app. It is not entirely secure, nothing is. There’s another website by the name “Safe Travels – Hawaii” (URL is https://hawaii.safetravels.com/) the name of which, when found in Google search results, gives the distinct impression it is the “Safe Travels: State of Hawaii” website (URL is https://travel.hawaii.gov). But in fact, the website is registered to an individual in Victoria Australia who is reselling Hawaii activities. Well, the good news at least is that he isn’t reselling COVID test results and, on reading the site, it does say that it isn’t the state’s site. But phishing-like it definitely is.
Next-generation test/vaccination portal coming soon.
A new technology coming to the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store very soon may become a global standard for both COVID tests and later covid vaccinations. At present, the app is in trial and available for use only on certain flights between New York, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore. United Airlines is taking part in the test.
CommonPass is a product of The Commons Project together with The World Economic Forum. It aims to help restore travel to pre-COVID levels by providing secure and verified documentation of health status for travelers. This will assure that the test or vaccination record is valid. And it will adjust to updated entry requirements as things evolve.
“A broad coalition of public and private partners is collaborating to launch CommonPass, a trusted, globally-interoperable platform for people to document their COVID-19 status (health declarations / PCR tests/ vaccinations) to satisfy country entry requirements while protecting their health data privacy.”
The new app, which purports to keep health data secure, was developed with a consortium including US Customs, CDC, and many airlines. With CommonPass, travelers can get a Covid-19 test at a participating partner lab and the results are then loaded directly to the app. Any additional screening questions, such as those required by Hawaii, can also be included online.
Lastly, CommonPass confirms compliance with the specific current entry requirements and creates the QR codes that can then be scanned by airline staff and border officials.
Photo courtesy of CommonPass.