Share article:
Share article:

Covid-19: Europol warns of fraudulent and fake vaccines

Fake vaccines could be dangerous to the health. © Benoit Doppagne/Belga

The head of the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol has warned that organised crime will now attempt to use the campaign of vaccination against Covid-19 to carry out a campaign of vaccine fraud.

Speaking to the German media group Funke-Mediengruppe (Berliner Morgenpost) Catherine De Bolle, formerly chief of the federal police in Belgium, said, “We have already sent a warning to the Member States, calling on them to be very vigilant. There is a real risk that criminal groups are trying to exploit the need for vaccine for their crimes.”

The fraud may take one of two forms: either vaccines are ordered and paid for and then never delivered; or the vaccines on offer are fake.

The transporting of the one vaccine currently approved for use in the EU is highly ordered and carried out under top security, so criminals will find it difficult to lay their hands on the real thing – but that will not stop them from trying.

In the meantime, offers of vaccines for sale have already started appearing on social media.

If the fraud is simply failure to deliver, the only ill-effect is financial. The sale of fake vaccine is much more dangerous.

If you become a victim of such fraud, it can of course have serious health consequences,” De Bolle warned.

During the first lockdown, thieves targetted face masks.

This is now also a danger with the vaccine,” De Bolle said. “Europol is trying to identify possible hotspots at which there is a particularly high risk of criminal offences, and then warn the national authorities. There is also special police cooperation in the EU to protect the transports.”

The transport of the vaccines is organised in the first instance by the Limburg-based firm H. Essers, which has 600 refrigerated and secure trucks to bring the vaccines from the Pfizer factory in Puurs near Mechelen to the airports or distribution centres in each of the EU member states, according to the plans of each government.

From there, the shipments will be distributed to vaccination centres according to the member state’s own arrangements, including security provided by police and/or military.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Over 80,000 companies in Belgium non-compliant with anti-money laundering meassures
Over 80,000 companies and non-profits in Belgium are still not compliant with the Ultimate Business Owner (UBO) register, which is required of them ...
Increase in tax exemption for donations in Belgium fails to meet expectations
The increase from 45% to 60% in the tax exemption for donations, decided by the former federal government in June 2020, has cost Belgium more than ...
Sex workers in Belgium to get more social rights protection
The social rights of sex workers will soon be better protected in Belgium, Belga News Agency reports. The Council of Ministers has approved a draft ...
Belgian firms sent almost 266 billion euros to tax havens last year
Hundreds of Belgian firms sent close to 266 billion euros to tax havens last year, De Tijd reported on Saturday. Any Belgian individual or firm ...
Belgian investigator wins prestigious US prize
Olivier Hardy, an investigator with the federal police’s anti-terrorist unit in Brussels, DR3, received on Friday a "Top Cop" prize in Washington for ...
Pegasus Project: European Parliament awards journalism prize to investigation of use of spyware
The Daphne Caruana Prize for Journalism was awarded on Thursday to the journalists from the Pegasus Project coordinated by the Forbidden Stories ...
Belgians can now test their knowledge of driving rules and win prizes
The Walloon Road Safety Agency (AWSR) launched on Friday a quiz to allow the general public to test their knowledge of the highway code. Last year, ...
600 extras wanted for film about Belgian ‘Porn King’ and notorious Antwerp nightclub
A Belgian movie telling the story of a notorious Antwerp nightclub with connections to a Belgian 'Porn King' is looking for 600 extras at the end of ...
Namur Marathon relaunches after two years on hold
The next edition of the Namur Marathon will take place on April 24, 2022, its organisers announced on Friday, as they also opened registrations. ...
Lidl goes on strike: Half of supermarkets in Belgium closes on Saturday
One in two Lidl shops remained closed on Saturday morning, Lidl spokeswoman Isabelle Colbrandt said. Staff have been on strike for several days to ...
€220 million: Largest ever lottery prize in Europe won in France
A record-breaking €220 million Euromillions jackpot was won on Friday by a player in France, the French gaming authority (FDJ) has announced. The ...
Antwerp exhibition shows first photos after city bombed in 1944
An open-air exhibition in Antwerp will show off never before seen photos as part of a commemoration of the first V-bomb to hit the city, 77 years ...