Gardaí have warned people not to buy fake Covid vaccine certs being advertised online on a number of social media platforms.
clampdown on the sale and advertising of such documents is now planned, senior sources say. This week a photo of the vaccine certs was being shared on a story for an account on social media platform Instagram.
It detailed a particular username for those interested to get in touch.
The account advertising the certs was private, meaning those looking to get in touch would need to request to follow and be accepted before messaging the profile.
“This is a common tactic used by organised criminal gangs involved in fraud – separately they have recruited hundreds if not thousands of money mules this way,” a senior source said.
In this case, it is suspected that the forgers are based in Dublin.
People are being warned not to buy the fake certs – which have been seen by the Irish Independent – “under any circumstances”.
“To be in a possession of such an item is a criminal offence under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act. This means that to produce anything forged in order to induce someone to accept it as a legitimate document is a crime,” the source explained.
There has been widespread concern that teenagers and people in their early 20s are not getting vaccinated and are using the forged certs to enter late-night establishments with fake documentation.
People can use their valid EU Digital Covid Certificates for entrance to pubs, restaurants and clubs as well for international travel to show they are fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months.
Senior sources say that detectives have not yet identified a particular crime gang behind the fake vaccine cert scams but investigations are ongoing.
People caught with forged indoor dining passes could face a €2,000 fine and/or a month in prison under the legislation.
It comes as government plans for new ticketing rules for nightclubs and live venues came under scrutiny yesterday.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar admitted there will be “teething problems” in the implementation of the new rules.
His comments came after representatives of the pub, hotel and nightlife sector were told that customers would have to pre-book tickets at least one hour before arrival at live venues, nightclubs and pubs which plan to allow dancing.
Government officials told the meeting that the new regulations for the ticketing system will be published on Thursday and that pubs should put this new system in place from then onwards. However, representative groups have asked for a moratorium of two weeks to allow the new ticketing system to be put in place.
Pub representatives also raised questions as to how late bars which open up their dance-floors later on in the evening would ticket their customers.
They were told by officials that it is up to operators themselves to put the system in place. Mr Varadkar said: “To be very frank, I think there are going to be teething problems and I think there are going to be implementation problems.
“We will keep all of these matters under review.
“The most important thing is that we managed to get the sector open.
“There will be issues, there will be teething problems, just like there were when we were reopening other sectors.”
The Tánaiste warned that the country is currently heading into a “difficult period”.
Vintners’ Federation of Ireland chief executive Pádraig Cribben said the regulations published on Thursday “must be clear”.
“We are concerned that getting a regulation on Thursday and being asked to comply with it by Thursday or Friday is not feasible.”
Mr Cribben said that if “common sense prevails”, the sector may be granted a two-week moratorium to put the new ticketing system in place.
Licensed Vintners’ Association chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said the “shambles” surrounding the new regulations is continuing.
“It’s a messy situation and the industry is not geared up to do this.
“Certainly, some of the largest nightclubs are well used to doing ticketing, but other late bars never had ticketing,” he said.
He said it would be “completely unfair” to expect businesses to put in place ticketing systems the same day regulations are published.
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