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Santo Domingo Square Santo Domingo square, long known for a black market in all sorts of fake documents, has expanded its offering to illicit COVID-19 vaccination certificates.Omarem/Creative Commons

Fake vaccination certificates go for 3,500 pesos in Mexico City

Demand has been spurred by Mexicans needing a WHO-approved vaccine for entry in US

Getting a fake vaccination certificate in Mexico City’s historic center is a simple two-hour process that costs as little as 3,500 pesos (US $170), reported the newspaper Milenio

Black market buyers need only provide their name and date of birth and can choose between AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNtech certificates to use as evidence of their first or second dose. 

Demand for the falsified documents has increased since the United States borders reopened to fully vaccinated travelers with a World Health Organization (WHO)-approved vaccine. That WHO specification effectively barred recipients of China’s CanSino and Russia’s Sputnik vaccines, which were both widely administered in Mexico. It is unclear if those who received CanSino or Sputnik shots have any way to get a WHO-approved vaccine.

Forged birth certificates, voter cards, university certificates and receipts have been available for decades in Santo Domingo square, located in Mexico City’s borough of Cuauhtémoc, just three blocks from the main square, but the vendors installed there have recently expanded their illicit offerings to include proof of vaccination.

A Milenio reporter who approached one of the vendors that operate from small stores or stalls in the square was told that the certificate would come with a requisite QR code, which if scanned, presents the correct data — including the individual’s personal information, the vaccine name and the date it was supposedly applied. 

Another counterfeiter told buyers to watch out for the police due to CCTV cameras in the area and implied they were aware of the criminal activity. “Remember that they [the police] know us, but they hunt for the customers after.”

Purchasers receive a draft of the certificate before it’s printed and can scan the QR code before they leave to verify its effectiveness.

With reports from Milenio 

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