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30 Sep 2022

Report on the Use of Fraudulent Medical Documents in Travel and Migration during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The study titled Report on the Use of Fraudulent Medical Documents in Travel and Migration during the COVID-19 Pandemic seeks to support immigration and border management agencies in addressing the use of fraudulent COVID-19 medical documents in the context of migration. Data for this study are derived from the following: (a) review of recent literature; (b) survey disseminated to national immigration authorities in the Asia-Pacific region; and (c) semi-structured interviews with representatives of immigration agencies and experts. The study supports agencies responsible for checking travellers’ medical documents and facilitates authorities in identifying fraudulent documents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the report examines the following: (a) how and why fraudulent medical documents are used in this context; (b) prevalence of the documents used; (c) types of fraudulent documents identified; (d) profile of travellers and migrants; (e) reasons for travel; and (f) methods for sourcing fraudulent documents. The report further suggests actions for improving international coordination and strengthening mechanisms to identify fraudulent medical documents while identifying challenges encountered by the authorities in responding to the use of fraudulent medical documents. This research report is developed by the Document Examination Support Center initiative coordinated by the Immigration and Border Management Unit of the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific of IOM.

  • Acknowledgements 
  • List of acronyms 
  • Executive summary 
  • Section 1: Introduction 
  • Section 2: Study aim and objectives 
  • Section 3: Methodology 
    • Desk review 
    • Survey of national immigration authorities 
    • Semi-structured interviews with national authorities 
  • Section 4: Study findings 
    • Agencies responsible for checking medical documents during the COVID-19 pandemic 
    • Methods for identifying fraudulent medical documents 
    • Types of fraudulent documents identified 
      • Forgeries 
      • Legitimate COVID-19 documents that have been fraudulently obtained 
  • Prevalence of fraudulent medical document use 
  • Profile of travellers and migrants using fraudulent medical documents 
  • Reasons for travel using fraudulent medical documents 
    • Avoiding vaccination 
    • Avoiding the costs associated with vaccination and organizing COVID-19 medical document 
    • Avoiding complex processes of organizing the correct medical documentation 
    • Positive COVID-19 test results 
    • Irregular migration 
  • Methods for sourcing fraudulent medical documents 
    • Facebook 
    • Telegram 
    • Dark web 
  • Vendors and profits 
    • Individual vendors 
    • Organize crime groups 
    • Medical professionals 
    • Scammers 
  • Responses of national authorities to persons suspected of using fraudulent medical documents 
    • Secondary check, interview, and prevented from travel 
    • Penalties 
  • Challenges for immigration authorities in responding to the use of fraudulent medical documents 
    • Lack of training and time 
    • Lack of consensus on COVID-19 vaccination certificate format and codes 
  • Section 5: Conclusion and recommendations