7th July 2021

‘COVID passport’ fraud warning

A new scam is using the vaccine passport scheme as a pretense for stealing recipients’ personal information.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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We all hope that the summer brings some enjoyment after what has been a period of unprecedented challenges for everyone, but scammers want to ruin that

The latest in a long line of scams to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic targets recipients with fraudulent claims that they are entitled to a ‘Coronavirus Digital Passport’.

CTSI has been made aware of the email scam, which comes clad in NHS branding, and tells recipients that they can apply for a digital vaccine passport which will enable them to “travel safely and freely around the world without having to self-isolate”.

The email contains links to a website which is also designed to look like an official NHS platform. It contains a form for the input of personal details, which could then be used to commit identity fraud.

The scam is not the first of its kind to use the theme of the pandemic as a vehicle; fake tests, bogus business grants, homeworking scams, a Test-and-Trace scam, and many others have emerged since the first lockdown began in March 2020.

The vaccine passport scam arrives when the UK’s health services have launched legitimate vaccine passports, and while many are looking to travel for summer holidays.

Katherine Hart, a Lead Officer at CTSI, said: “This is yet another example of unscrupulous fraudsters taking advantage of the pandemic to line their pockets. We all hope that the summer brings some enjoyment after what has been a period of unprecedented challenges for everyone, but scammers want to ruin that.

“It is vital that we not only avoid these scams, but also report them to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, contact Police Scotland. More data received means that the authorities can build a richer picture and identify the full scale of this serious issue.

Bruce Treloar, CTSI Lead Officer for Holiday and Travel Law, added: “Holidaymakers should keep up to date with the UK Government’s traffic light system for existing travel recommendations, and apply for an NHS COVID Pass if a resident of England or the respective systems for Scotland and Wales if resident in those nations. Digital health passports will go live in Northern Ireland this month.

“Holidaymakers should also search for providers that offer flexible booking policies in the event of traffic light changes. Doing this could potentially save holidaymakers money in the event of a colour change.”