Italian police dismantle fake health card system on Telegram app
ROME (Reuters) – Italian police on Monday blocked several groups on the Telegram mobile messaging app where users could purchase fake COVID-19 health passes needed to access a range of services and leisure activities .
The so-called Green Pass is a digital or paper certificate that shows whether a person has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, has tested negative, or has recently recovered from the virus.
Mario Draghi’s government adopted the pass in an attempt to speed up vaccinations against the Delta variant, but it has sparked protests from some Italians who say it flouts freedoms and is an indirect way of making vaccines mandatory.
From August 6, it is mandatory to enter gyms, swimming pools, museums, cinemas and eat indoors in restaurants. From September 1, it will also be compulsory for university students and for travel by train, plane, boat and coach. .
Police said in a statement they shut down 32 Telegram groups operating across the country, offering fake passes to thousands of subscribers up to 500 euros ($ 588) in cryptocurrency or vouchers in line.
Four people were indicted on suspicion of fraud and forgery.
Italy has recorded 128,220 deaths from COVID-19 since the outbreak of its outbreak in February last year, the second-highest death toll in Europe and the eighth in the world. It has recorded 4.4 million cases to date.
However, many citizens are still reluctant to get vaccinated, even as hospitalizations are on the rise again.
Some 66% of Italians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and around 55% are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data. According to the Ministry of Health, around 20 million green certificates have been downloaded from a population of around 60 million.
($ 1 = € 0.8507)
(Report by Angelo Amante edited by Gavin Jones and Mark Potter)