Hundreds of fake COVID tests and vaccine certificates have been found by Canadian border officials. Does anyone face consequences?
Border officials in Canada and the United States catch people they suspect of trying to circumvent vaccination rules to cross the border by the hundreds – but far fewer see fines.
Although hundreds of allegedly false and misused COVID-19 vaccination cards and tests have been reported by border officials across Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada has so far inflicted only 17 fines related to these reports.
In the United States, a woman who was arrested by U.S. border guards using her sister’s passport and proof of COVID-19 vaccination has still been able to enter the country and has not been charged, according to US customs and border protection.
The woman, a U.S. citizen who was crossing the country from British Columbia, was found last month with a passport that did not match her face by border officials using facial biometric technology in Blaine, Wash. She then admitted to border officials that she was using her sister’s papers because she was not vaccinated.
West Pryde, a British Columbia criminal lawyer in Filkow, said using forged or forged documents while attempting to cross the border is a serious offense with extreme penalties.
“There are a number of border obligations and you really have to tell the truth,” Pryde said. “It’s pretty foolish to try to make your way through a country and commit one more criminal offense. There are a lot of reasons not to.
Those reasons include possible jail time, fines of several hundred thousand dollars and travel bans, he said.
It would also likely result in a report by border security and, in the case of using someone else’s documents, their report would as well.
“As soon as you try to make your way into the country you’re going to be put on a list,” Pryde said.
In response to the incident, Canadian border officials said people using bogus or fraudulent vaccine certification documents can expect fines and even jail time if they use them to attempt to enter the country. Canada. But, according to figures from the Canada Border Services Agency, only 17 of the more than 300 people suspected of having been caught doing this have been fined so far.
Although the woman was allowed to enter the United States and was not charged with misuse of her sister’s passport, the passport was seized, a U.S. border representative told The Star.
Under travel restrictions, U.S. citizens are not required to have proof of vaccination to enter the United States when crossing land borders, but foreign nationals are. It is illegal to travel with another person’s passport to the United States and Canada.
US authorities have not disclosed the woman’s name.
Details emerging around the incident, which took place on November 26, highlight efforts to enforce vaccine requirements and travel restrictions during the third winter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of October 31, the Canadian border agency had intercepted 374 COVID-19 test results suspected of being tampered with or fraudulent, and 92 vaccine credentials suspected of being tampered with or fraudulent. The border agency referred all concerned to the Public Health Agency of Canada, which has the power to enforce the Quarantine Act.
“A person who submits false information about immunization status could be subject to a fine of up to $ 750,000 or six months imprisonment or both under the Quarantine Act, or prosecution. under the Criminal Code for forgery, ”wrote Louis-Carl Brissette Lesage, spokesperson for the border agency, in an email.
“A person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person by willfully or recklessly contravening this Act or the regulations could be liable to a fine of up to $ 1,000,000 or ” a prison sentence of up to three years or both. “
So far, only 17 of those suspected of using false vaccine tests or certifications have been fined by the Public Health Agency. A spokesperson for the agency said some cases are still under investigation, but he does not know the number. Criminal charges laid by police services are also not counted by the agency.
An Auditor General’s report released on Thursday said the Public Health Agency of Canada had made some improvements to its enforcement of border control measures since the start of the pandemic, but pointed to gaps in enforcement by the quarantine agency and mandatory testing in hotels.