Bulgaria: Security Experts Warn about New Scam – Fake PCR Tests

Society | May 18, 2021, Tuesday // 11:34|  views

Frauds with fake PCR tests on the eve of the summer tourist season are gaining currency in Bulgaria. Several companies blew the whistle after their representatives became victims of alleged lab technicians. The victims were even actually tested, and then received certificates  with negative tests results. When do they find out they've been deceived? And is there a boom in fake travel certificates during the summer holidays season - Georgi Georgiev commented on the issue in  "On your side" TV talk show.

He told about an exemplary case when the tests were offered through social networks by fictitious laboratories that provided an on-site testing service, the reports of victims show. After testing the alleged lab workers issued certificates with a negative result for COVID-19. Those tested usually find out about the fraud when the certificate is checked at the border.

What follows is arrest at the border instead of a business trip to Greece. So ended the planned trip for a man and a woman, representatives of a Bulgarian company who headed to our southern neighbor on business at the end of April. To travel trouble-free they made a PCR test. At the border, however, they understood that the issued document with the test result is a fake and, without knowing, they have fallen victim to fraud.

'In their case the examining officer called the laboratory and found that no such test has ever been taken or another person was tested. Then the relevant travelers are immediately detained because they submit a fraudulent document," explained lawyer Georgi Dimitrov, who told us about the scam. The victims sought his assistance after being detained.

Because of what they've been through, they don't want to stand in front of a camera. The two cases are different, but the scenario – the same.

 "They come across a site of a test service which poses as a famous laboratory that carries out PCR tests. They fill in forms to request a visit on the spot with all the necessary data about the person for whom the PCR test should be made," he explained.

To save time, they request the "office test" service on the phone posted on the internet, just hours before the business trip.

"They are arranging for a place to take a sample, they really come and take a sample of secretion for the test. Usually payment is effected on the spot," the lawyer said further.

 So a few hours later, for BGN 100-150, they receive a document with a negative test result. The certificate contained all the necessary data and did not in any way arouse suspicion.

"This certificate looks like the real one issued by a regular laboratory. People, unsuspecting, pay the amount and when travelling abroad found that the certificate is fake at the border," explained Prof. Dimitrov.

That's when they realize they've been swindled. And that the tests in the office were staged by fake lab technicians.

Attempts to call the lab were futile, as the web pages from which they made the requests no longer existed.

Creating such fake social media pages is a matter of minutes, reveals cybersecurity expert Lyubomir Tulev. Without raising  any doubts in the potential victims.

Attempts to falsify official COVID tests are common, one of the certified laboratories said. Most often, the alerts that reach them are about frauds exposed at the Greek border.  Expert in medical law Dr. Maria Petrova has also repeatedly encountered with similar cases in her practice,.

In her words, the attempts to falsify official test results peaked in the summer of last year. However, the scheme, in which travellers do not know that their tests are fake, is also new to her.

At the beginning of the high summer season, these attempts will gain currency, according to tourism expert Konstantin Zankov.

I recommend to travelers to take authentic tests in official laboratories - not to try to bend the rules, because it can cost them a lot of trouble at the border, even arrest," he stressed.



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Tags: Bulgaria, internet scam, fake PCR tests


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