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CRIME

France proposes €1,000 fine for using fake vaccine pass

As part of its plan to convert the health pass into a vaccine pass, the French government is also proposing stiff new penalties for those caught with a fake pass.

France proposes €1,000 fine for using fake vaccine pass
A security guard checks health passes in France. Photo: Pascal Pochard Casablanca/AFP

In his press conference on Monday evening, French prime minister Jean Castex strongly condemned those who use false health passes, describing it as a “deliberate act to endanger others”.

Forgery networks

The health pass has been required to access certain venues in France since August, and for almost as long there has been a problem with people using false passes.

In some cases fake health passes are created, while in others medics have been caught selling fake vaccination certificates in order to create a real – but fraudulent – pass.

Some people take the less complicated option of simply using someone else’s pass to access a bar, café or leisure venue.

Unlike in some countries, ID checks are not routinely performed when the health pass is checked.

This is because French law says that only an ‘agent of the state’ can request to see a person’s ID. This covers railway staff and spot checks by police officers, but does not allow for waiters or cinema staff to ask to see a person’s ID when they are checking the health pass.

New rules

The health pass in France is set to undergo a change in January. Subject to approval in the French parliament, it will become a vaccine pass – meaning that unvaccinated people can no longer use a negative Covid test to enter health pass venues. Only proof of fully vaccinated status will be accepted.

READ ALSO What changes when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass?

Anticipating an increase in demand for fake passes among the hardcore of vaccine-refuseniks, the bill on vaccine passes also contains a proposal for harsher sentences.

The fine for using a fake pass will rise from €135 to €1,000 for a first offence. 

Lending your health pass to someone else to use is punishable by a €750 fine.

Cafés, bars and other health pass venues who are caught not checking passes will be subject to an immediate €1,000 fine, with the option of closures for repeated offences and fines rising to €45,000.

There are already stiff penalties in force for people who produce fake passes, and at present there is no proposal to change these.

Creating a fake health pass is punishable by fines of up to €75,000 and five years in jail.

Issuing a fake document (eg a negative Covid test or vaccination certificate) that can be used to produce a health pass is also punishable by fines of up to €75,000 and five years in jail.

Fraudulently introducing data into an automated processing system (e.g. recording people as vaccinated when they are not) is punishable by fines of up to €150,000 and five years in jail.

Since the summer there have been several arrests of people involved with creating fake vaccine certificates or health passes, including in some cases health professionals selling certificates to the unvaccinated.

Member comments

  1. That’s all very well but what they need to crack down on is venues allowing people in without passes. There are numerous restaurants and bars that allow people in with no checks imposed. I know for a fact that a lot of these are known to the police but they take no action to enforce the rules. Therefore it makes a mockery of the vaccination pass!

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CRIME

French police break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Police investigating drug-trafficking in south west France have broken up a counterfeit Bordeaux wine ring following an eight-month investigation.

French police break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Prosecutors said that 100 gendarmes were involved in an operation to arrest up to 20 suspects in seven départements after the fake wine scam was discovered when fake wine labels were discovered by officers investigating a drugs ring. 

During searches, a dozen vehicles and, “a large volume of wine” were seized, they added.

They estimated that several hundred thousand bottles of Spanish wine had been passed off as being from the Médoc wine region of France.

Investigations involving a dedicated police unit revealed “a large-scale fraud organised by the owner of a vineyard in the Médoc”, police said, who obtained wine via “Spanish contacts”, bottled it at night and put fake labels on the bottles.

The fake wines were then sold “by the pallet” in several areas via “a network of official and unofficial distributors made up of companies, pensioners and self-employed people”, according to prosecutors. 

Orders amounting to several thousand bottles were sent abroad, with customers believing they were buying Bordeaux chateau wines at bargain prices, prosecutors said, when the bottles really contained “low-end wines …. from remote areas”.

Three suspects, including someone described as the ‘main instigator’ appeared before an examining magistrate on Wednesday and was charged with a variety of offences linked to fraud.

A source close to the case told AFP that the counterfeiting targeted mid-range Médoc wines, which are easier to counterfeit than the grand crus. 

“If the facts are proven, we hope that the perpetrators will be heavily condemned because these practices harm the image of Bordeaux wines and the image of all those who work well and respect the rules,” reacted the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wine contacted by AFP.

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