The pandemic has led many countries to implement travel restrictions for people coming from certain areas of the world. If you're in the U.S., where the pandemic is currently getting worse and worse by the day, it's probably not easy for you to find a country that you're allowed to travel to right now.
And even if you do find that country, you'd probably be forced to quarantine for two weeks when you get there or face legal consequences. Some people don't like that. So they've been faking or buying negative COVID-19 tests to get around these requirements. And it's a real problem.
USA Today reports, "French police arrested seven people for selling falsified negative test results at Paris' Charles de Gaulle International Airport, which is Europe's largest. Prosecutors said the suspects were charging between $180-360 for fake certificates."
The investigation began when someone trying to travel to Ethiopia provided fake documentation. For those arrested, they could face up to five years in prison and nearly $500,000 in fines if convicted.
And France isn't the only place where this has been happening. Just last month, four Brazilian tourists were arrested after landing in Fernando de Noronha and trying to gain access to one of Brazil's most beautiful beaches. They were accused of presenting "altered" documents, jailed, and tested for COVID-19 immediately.
Fernando de Noronha reopened to tourists as long as they present a negative COVID-19 test that was administered "no earlier than one day before departure." These four tourists had test results that were dated three days before they arrived.
They were refused access and told they needed to be retested but they refused. Then, shortly after, they magically presented new test results with a different date. Officials called the lab to confirm, and the lab informed them that the documentation had been changed.
A man in Britain told the Lancashire Telegraph that his friend gave him a negative COVID-19 test and he changed the name to his, printed it out, and was able to travel to Pakistan using it.
This problem doesn't seem to be widespread within the United States, though the state where there are lots of tourists trying to get in — Hawaii — has extremely strict policies for testing and quarantining. It's all to preserve the health of their residents and prevent a catastrophic rise in cases.
You'd think that travelers would understand this and be willing to comply with the rules. After all, if you're traveling now, in the middle of the pandemic, it's probably because you really have to, right? To make a permanent move or visit family members, right?
In the U.S., the problem isn't necessarily that people are forging tests. But toward the beginning of the pandemic, the FBI warned of fake pop-up testing sites designed to steal people's social security numbers and credit card information.
Especially now, it is imperative that you only travel if you really have to, that you get tested properly and do it responsibly, and that you are clear on any entry requirements for your destination. You could end up in prison! Not to mention you could risk the health of lots of people. And that's not worth access to any beach in the world.