Austrian police raid suspected vaccine pass forgers
Austrian police said they had raided two dozen homes Wednesday, seizing equipment and placing 22 people under investigation on suspicion of forging vaccine certificates, weeks before Covid vaccines become mandatory.
Investigators suspect the 22 people were forging documents not just for themselves but for friends and acquaintances, the interior ministry said in a statement.
“Organised trade and use of forged vaccine certificates is no trivial matter, but a criminal offence,” said Interior Minister Gerhard Karner.
A unit specialising in tracking forged Covid-19 documents was tipped off by the suspects discussing their business on social media, said the statement.
Some 100 police officers involved in the operation confiscated “numerous vaccine certificates, mobile phones and computers”. They were now being helped in their investigation by the EU police agency Europol.
Austria is currently in a lockdown for the unvaccinated, which make up about 30 percent of the population — among the highest in western Europe. Police say they are checking about 30,000 vaccine passes per day.
In November, Austria became the first and thus far only country in Europe to announce that Covid-19 vaccines would become mandatory for all eligible residents.
The mandate, which comes into effect in February, has pushed some vaccine sceptics to get the jab. But tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets each week to protest the mandate.