Thirteen suspects arrested in France for forging more than 60,000 fake COVID passes

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By AFP  with Euronews
A waiter checks clients' health passes at a restaurant in Ascain, southwestern France.
A waiter checks clients' health passes at a restaurant in Ascain, southwestern France.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Bob Edme, File

Thirteen people have been arrested in France on suspicion of forging more than 60,000 fake COVID-19 health passes.

Investigators said they had uncovered a criminal network in Paris and Lyon selling the fraudulent certificates.

The group had created an estimated 62,000 fake health passes, French police said in a statement.

An investigation was launched after a nurse in Angers realised their professional account had been hacked to forge vaccination certificates.

A French health insurance company informed police that the nurse in question had not been registered to approve thousands of COVID-19 vaccines.

Eight suspects were arrested in the Lyon region on Wednesday morning, while another five have been detained in the French capital.

Three of the suspects -- aged between 22 and 29 -- are believed to have hacked the digital profiles of 35 doctors across France to generate fake health passes. These forged certificates were sold directly to citizens of third parties, police said.

The thirteen suspects were all arrested on suspicion of organised gang fraud, aggravated money laundering, and hacking personal data.

The French government had recently estimated that around 200,000 fake vaccination certificates were circulating in the country.

Citizens in France must have received a third vaccine dose or have recently recovered from infection to access ars, restaurants, and cultural venues.

Additional sources • DPA