People line up to present their vaccine passports at La Grande roue de Montréal.

People line up to present their vaccine passports at La Grande roue de Montréal.

Quebec's anti-corruption agency (UPAC) announced on August 18 that authorities have issued the first wave of tickets (statements of offence) with regards to the production, use and trafficking of fake COVID-19 vaccine passports throughout the province.

In January, Minister of Public Security Geneviève Guilbault announced the launch of 150 investigations into fraudulent passports, around 30 of which, she said, had to do with internal corruption.

Fake versions of the vaccine passport popped up soon after the government introduced the measure in September 2021.

When investigations into vaccine passport fraud began, Guilbault said in an interview with Radio-Canada that there were a few red flags officials would look out for while evaluating passport validity, such as two doses listed in one day or an incorrect interval between doses. Investigators also paid attention to vaccines administered late at night when clinics and vaccine centres were closed to the public.

The UPAC earlier this year said fraudsters could be guilty of offences related to the "production and use of false documents, breach of trust and corruption as well as criminal offences under the Public Health Act."

The agency didn't how many statements of offence have been issued, but did say it was referring some cases to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP).

The DPCP is coming down hard on fake vaccine passport makers and users, determining according to the UPAC that "offences committed in connection with the manufacture or use of a false vaccine passport should not be subject to non-judicial treatment or an alternative measure."

Guilbault said in January that penalties could include fines and jail time. The UPAC encourages those with knowledge of such fraudulent activities to contact them anonymously via this form.

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