Faking it Russian journalists uncover mock laboratory websites selling forged PCR test certificates to thousands of clients
Scammers are using websites disguised as the sites of well-known Russian laboratories to sell fake coronavirus test certificates, according to a new report from the St. Petersburg-based 47news. Journalist Viktor Smirnov reported that he was able to gain access to the admin panel used to run these “clone” sites, where clients can order falsified proof of PCR test results.
The article includes a list of web addresses for the fraudulent sites, which were made to look like the websites of labs such as Invitro, Gemotest, and ArkhiMed (none of the clone sites are currently available via direct link).
Journalists obtained access to the admin panel in late October. “47news, with the help of technical specialists, found a breach in the scammers’ Moscow site,” Smirnov explains. This allowed them to access the admin panel where client data is stored, including full names, telephone numbers, and email addresses. As of October 29, the database listed more than 8,000 clients, mainly migrants from Central Asian countries.
Judging by the registration dates, these fake sites have been operating since March 2021. Clients are charged 2,550 rubles ($36) to receive fake proof of PCR test results within three hours, or 1,600 rubles ($23) to get a certificate in 24 hours. After placing their order on the website, clients are asked to provide their personal data, including their insurance certificate number, and pay for their purchase. The falsified certificate is later sent to their email.
47news notes that the forged documents are indistinguishable from the real thing — they even contain a QR code that leads to a login page for a personal account on a mock laboratory website, where users can see their fake PCR test results.
The news site also uncovered three phone numbers used to sell the falsified certificates to migrants arriving in Russia. 47news traced these numbers to a 35-year-old by the name of Anton Ushakov, whose registered address is in Sevastopol. Journalists were unable to reach Ushakov for comment. No one answered the phone number listed in the admin panel for the fake sites either.
Spokespeople for Invitro, Gemotest, and ArkhiMed also did not respond to inquiries from 47news.
Translation by Eilish Hart