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Snapchat being used to counterfeit Ontario proof-of-vaccination certificates

Epidemiologist Colin Furness said this is a situation that urgently needs fixing.
(via Shutterstock)

Public health and medical experts are once again sounding the alarm about the use of fake vaccine certificates across Ontario.

Counterfeiting the non-QR code PDF is as simple as using cut and paste and many are turning to technology to do just that.

An 18-year-old said they can use Snapchat, the social media app for sending photos, to alter Ontario’s original vaccine certificates.

They use a tool to white out the name and the date of birth before picking out a similar font and replacing it with a name and date of birth that matches their driver’s license or health card. It can be shrunk in size and matched to slide perfectly in place with the original certificate.

It took CityNews reporter Adrian Ghobrial just over two minutes to counterfeit a certificate after never using Snapchat before.

The teenager who spoke with CityNews tell us this loophole in Ontario’s policy is well known, adding that “Snapchat is the main platform we use to contact each other, everyone knows these tricks already. Everyone knows it’s there.”

Proof of vaccination is required to access several indoor settings, including restaurants, sports arenas and concerts.

Epidemiologist Colin Furness said this is a situation that urgently needs fixing, “The system has not been taken seriously by government therefore it’s been implemented in a slap-dash way and we shouldn’t be surprised.”

However, the province has been reluctant to phase out the old proof of vaccination, even though experts say the QR code version is much tougher to counterfeit.

Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore recently said if he sees more evidence of fraud, he’ll recommend that Ontario move to a QR-code only system.

CityNews has tried to follow up with him about those comments six times, including Wednesday but the Ford government hasn’t made Dr. Moore available. The province has already said their plan is to scrap the entire proof-of-vaccination program by January 17.

Furness believes the Ford government doesn’t have the political motivation to use vaccine passports as a public health measure.

“In Ontario it was very clear the government didn’t have an interest (in vaccine passports) and their original position on the issue was they weren’t going to do anything like this,” added Furness.

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