ATHENS – Greek police are intensifying a hunt for issuers and holders of fake COVID-19 vaccination and Coronavirus recovery papers in an investigation that has reportedly found widespread fraud and anti-vaxxers denying the pandemic and suing health officials.
The probe was begun by the Supreme Court's chief prosecutor and Kathimerini reported the case is looking into if the certificates were sold, and if health care personnel and lawyers- and criminal gangs – are looking to profit off the pandemic.
Anti-vaxxers who said the virus is a hoax and that vaccines are a conspiracy to alter their DNA and control their minds are targeting doctors, health care workers and even coroners.
The deniers charge them with allegedly working together to convince people believe that victims who died from COVID were killed by something else and that fake death certificates were issued to cover up the real cause.
Despite testimony from doctors and prosecutors otherwise, the paper said at least two panels of judges agreed with anti-vaxxer suits preliminarily and ordered exhumations to test remains for the cause of death.
The anti-vaxxers are urging people not to be vaccinated and to refuse hospitalization if they become ill, and at least one suit brought against a hospital for trying to save a woman's life for putting her on a ventilator.
The paper said the cases are similar to that of notorious swindler Artemis Sorras who persuaded followers to pay him monthly dues for his organization although he said he had 600 billion euros ($701.13) and would off their debt as well as Greece's.
The denialists are using the Internet and social media online forums to spread propaganda against the pandemic, leading prosecutors to consider charging them with operating criminal gangs.
Fake vaccination certificates have been found in seven Greek regions so far, the paper said, and the head of the health care workers POEDIN said he thinks there are some 200 but authorities are anxious there could be far more, undermining the authenticity of genuine documents.
In Thessaly, a health care center is under investigation and the paper said that one person – unnamed because of privacy laws – issued fake certificates and has been connected to hospitals in Thessaloniki and Kozani.
At a hospital in the western city of Mesolongi, a doctor took a sample from one person, who tested negative, and used the result to issue a fraudulent certificate to a third person, the report added.
In Santorini, a hotel employee – tourism workers aren't required to be vaccinated – allegedly procured fake certificates from the local health center for visiting European tourists who wanted to show on return home they were fully vaccinated, difficult to do because two shots are required several weeks or months apart.
In Kavala, northern Greece, hospital officials ordered antibody tests for 10 workers after suspicions their vaccine papers were fake as health care workers who aren't vaccinated will be suspended without pay. One page said it would issue fake vaccination certificates with active QR codes.
The situation is deemed so serious that the Hellenic Police (ELAS) has put its Internal Affairs Division into the probe, the unit that investigates police wrongdoing also authorized to check public servants.
Fake certificates can be bought online for $200-$250, the report added, and are being advertised in Greece with no report if the police's Internet investigative branch has tried to stop it.