On Monday, Italian police blocked several groups on mobile messaging app Telegram where users could buy fake a Green Pass. Anyone in Italy needs the Green Pass to access museums, leisure services and restaurants.
The ‘Green Pass’ is a digital or paper certificate that shows if someone has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, has tested negative or recently recovered from the virus.
In the face of rising cases due to the Delta variant, the government widened the scope of the pass. It had initially been introduced to allow travel between EU countries.
Some Italians have protested over the new regulations, saying it tramples on freedoms and is an indirect way of making vaccines obligatory.
As of 6th August, it is required to access gyms, swimming pools, museums, cinemas and to eat indoors at restaurants, and from 1st September it will also be mandatory for university students and to travel on trains, planes, ships and coaches.
Fake Green Pass network
The police said in a statement they had shut down 32 Telegram groups operating around the country. They were offering fake passes to thousands of subscribers for up to €500 in cryptocurrency or online shopping vouchers.
Four people are under investigation on suspicion of fraud and forgery.
Italy has registered 128,220 COVID-19 deaths since the outbreak in February last year. This is the second-highest toll in Europe and the eighth-highest in the world. It has recorded 4.4 million cases to date.
However, many citizens are still reluctant to get vaccinated, even as hospitalisations are rising again.
Around 66% of Italians have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and around 55% are fully inoculated, the latest data show.
According to the health ministry, about 20 million green certificates have been downloaded in a population of about 60 million.