Police in major raids on 100 apartments after doctor hands out fake vaccine certificates

Covid-19: Germany excludes unvaccinated from public life

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The police searched the homes of more than 100 people in Bavaria and three other federal states who are said to have obtained false vaccination certificates. The investigators secured vaccination cards and smartphones, among other things, during the operation, which began early Thursday morning. In addition, blood was taken from the accused to clarify their vaccination status, as a police spokesman said.

The reason for the searches was the case of a family doctor in the Donau-Ries district who is said to have administered sham vaccinations and issued vaccination certificates without vaccinations.

The searches are now aimed at people who are suspected of having deliberately consulted the doctor in order to get a vaccination certificate without having been vaccinated.

According to the police, they are being investigated for aiding and abetting or incitement to issue incorrect health certificates and their use.

In addition, violations of the Infection Protection Act are being discussed. In the meantime, the doctor has been barred from his profession.

More than 200 officers were on duty during the searches on Thursday morning, and according to a police spokesman, the operation went peacefully.

Last year, in November, German officers detained 12 individuals suspected of involvement in the manufacture and sale of falsified COVID-19 vaccine passports.

The counterfeits are believed to have been sold for up to €400 (£333) each.

Criminal investigators in the state of Hesse said in a press statement that more than 200 officers had taken part in raids on a total of 23 locations throughout the central German state, as well as two cities in the neighbouring state of Baden-Württemberg.

Vaccine passports — either shown as a QR code or in an official vaccine paper booklet — are required as evidence of vaccination.

Most bars, restaurants, and entertainment facilities require proof of vaccination or recovery from an infection.

Some also allow proof of a recent negative test.

Police investigations led them to two main suspects.

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A 36-year-old who had allegedly falsified vaccine documents and a 42-year-old who allegedly sold them.

The two men are accused of dealing with both falsified QR codes and paper documents. Police also detained ten other individuals during their raids.

Police estimated the number of counterfeits to be at least 300, with a similar number of customers.

Prices for the faked documents ranged from €100 to €400 (£95 to £333). They also found mobile phones and data storage devices.

Officers seized falsified and blank vaccine passports and tens of thousands of euros in cash.

Investigators were able to track down 20 of the people suspected of having purchased the counterfeit vaccine passports.

Digital vaccine passports, and vaccine passports in general, have been a topic of heated debate across Europe.

The news of falsified documents made headlines in October after fake certificates belonging to Adolf Hitler, Spongebob and Mickey Mouse were discovered.

It was assumed that these had been made to show off what the counterfeiters were capable of.

The hacker group Chaos Computer Club (CCC) told lawmakers back when the passports were being discussed that forgery-proof encryptions would not be able to prevent single documents from being falsified.

Matthias Marx from the CCC told DW that the demand for fake passports would likely increase: “The stricter the rules for the unvaccinated, the greater the incentive to get a counterfeit. And then someone will offer it.”

Currently, Germany has seen 7.78m cases of COVID-19 reported, with just over 115,000 death occurring from the virus.

156m doses of the vaccine have officially been given in the country, with 60.1m people having been fully vaccinated, equating to 72.3 percent of the population.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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