Police are investigating thousands of cases of vaccine certificate fraud in Germany as anti-vaxxers push against tightening COVID restrictions.
According to German news agency DPA, over 12,000 investigations have been launched across the country.
Data shows that vaccine fraud surged in December when Germany introduced new restrictions for unvaccinated Germans, restricting them from locations such as restaurants, cinemas and shops.
According to reporting by VICE World News, fake COVID passes for use in the country are being advertised on Telegram, with QR codes being priced at €150. Channels claiming to sell fake COVID certificates have almost 30,000 subscribers.
The consequences for those who supply fraudulent vaccine information can include fines, suspended prison sentences or being suspended from employment.
In December last year, a German man killed his family before taking his own life and left a note saying he feared securing a fake COVID pass for his wife would mean they would be jailed and their children would be taken away.
The data comes as political crimes reach a record high in a country battling ongoing opposition to COVID restrictions. According to figures by the German interior ministry, crimes with a “political” basis grew by 6 percent to 47,303, fuelled by a rise in anti-lockdown offences.
Germany has faced high levels of anti-vax sentiment, with an anti-lockdown movement known as “Querdenken” thriving throughout the country. On Monday, over 70,000 Germans protested against COVID restrictions across major cities, with some requiring police intervention.
The German government is expected to bring in a vaccine mandate though it is not expected to be introduced for several months.
Almost 73 percent of the country has received two COVID vaccines, and 48 percent has been given a booster too.