fake vaccine passport

People are scamming their way into Toronto events with fake vaccine passports

The return of live events after such a long time stuck in lockdown has brought a shot of life back to Toronto streets, but there are reports of some abusing the system and putting the countless people who actually play by the rules at risk.

CityNews is reporting that fans have been using fake vaccine passports to enter Leafs and Raptors games at Scotiabank Arena.

This is apparently being done by exploiting a loophole allowing fans to use the easy-to-forge proof-of-vaccination certificates, as well as the much more secure QR code system that was introduced in October.

The old style of vaccine certificates still being accepted has been criticized for its lack of security features, with just a little Photoshop tinkering required to give scammers a passable certificate. Even those without any advanced tech know-how could pull off a pretty convincing fake.

It's not so easy using the new system, which embeds data including your name and vaccination status directly into a scannable QR code. This technology is much harder for scammers to fake, requiring extensive technical expertise.

Health Minister Christine Elliott acknowledged that there are holes in the system at a recent presser, telling media, "counterfeiting, we're obviously dealing with that and investigating wherever it's happening."

"We're still using that system, and it's going to take some time before we're able to switch over," said Elliott.

While Elliott's statements are a clear hint that the old-style certificates may be phased out soon, Premier Doug Ford appears hesitant to do away with physical certificates in favour of a purely digital solution.

And there's good reason for Ford to be careful here: Though the QR codes are a lot harder to forge, they also come with the caveat of only being helpful to those with mobile devices.

Eliminating the paper certificates would put marginalized populations without access to smart devices in a bit of a bind, and could be seen as discriminatory, similar to criticisms faced by cashless businesses.

For now, businesses are mandated to accept both forms of proof of vaccination.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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