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In Covid-Era Travel Scam, Scammers Offer Fake Test Results | Instant News



In many parts of the world, travelers are required to test negative for Covid-19 before boarding a flight, but a number of recent arrests suggest not all results will be genuine. Indonesian, French and British authorities claim to have arrested the supplier of falsified coronavirus tests. “As long as travel restrictions remain in place due to the Covid-19 situation, it is highly likely that the production and sale of bogus test certificates will prevail,” said Europol, the EU police agency European this month. Allegations of Covid-19 test fraud are growing around the world. A man was arrested outside London Luton Airport in late January in connection with the sale of fake Covid-19 test certificates. In November, French authorities arrested seven people for selling false certificates to travelers at Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris. Police first learned of the fraud after discovering a passenger with a fake certificate on a flight to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. After the arrests, police found more than 200 fake certificates on suspects’ phones, which allowed people to steal abroad, according to French prosecutors. Airports in Paris and Singapore, as well as airlines like United and JetBlue, are experimenting with apps that verify travelers are not Covid before boarding. The WSJ goes to an airport in Rome to see how a digital health passport works. Photo credit: AOKpass At the end of January, police in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, said they had arrested eight people allegedly involved in a scam to sell fabricated negative test results to travelers. That month, Indonesian authorities arrested 15 people in a separate program, accusing them of offering false results for around $ 70 each. Police said a former employee of the health office at the city’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport got hold of an electronic copy of a negative test certificate and, from October, the used to print about 20 forged test results per day. In the Philippines, a government research institute affiliated with the health department warned last month that people posing as its employees were selling fake Covid-19 test results. SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS What solutions could be implemented to ensure the authenticity of a Covid-19 test before traveling? Join the conversation below. Taiwan banned Indonesian migrant workers in December, saying it couldn’t trust the country’s Covid-19 test results. Earlier that month, four-fifths of Indonesian workers who provided Taiwanese authorities with test results showing they were not infected with the virus then tested positive for Covid-19 after being sampled in Taiwan . “These reports are increasingly inaccurate,” Chen Shih-chung, Taiwan’s health minister, said in December. “We really have no idea what kinds of problems they are having.” The Indonesian government agency that deals with the affairs of migrant workers has said it will step up monitoring of migrant workers’ tests to avoid false tests. The potential for fraud is pervasive in a patchwork of international travel restrictions that were enacted during the pandemic. “The results of the paper tests are not only available in different formats and languages, but they can also be easily manipulated,” said Albert Tjoeng, spokesperson for the International Air Transport Association, which represents around 290 airlines in the world. He said check-in officers should “try to determine the authenticity of several non-standard test documents that passengers present to them.” The problem has no simple solution. Some governments have warned against action. Singapore, for example, says travelers who produce fake test certificates will face restrictions on their ability to reside in the city-state in the future, while the Chinese government has warned of “liability. legal ”. Receive a coronavirus briefing six days a week and a weekly health newsletter once the crisis subsides: sign up here. CommonPass, a project supported by the nonprofit The Commons Project Foundation, where each country will be invited to share their testing and vaccination requirements for travelers, as well as the names of facilities to which authorities are trusted to administer Covid-19 tests. Designated facilities will then enter travelers’ Covid-19 testing and vaccination information into data systems accessible by CommonPass, allowing individuals to share that data with airlines and border authorities. “It’s a way to efficiently issue a certificate – a digital certificate, like a test certificate or vaccination record – but in a tamper-proof manner,” said Paul Meyer, general manager of the Commons project. This month, a passenger presents documents at a Covid-19 test center in the arrivals area of ​​Charles de Gaulle airport. In November, French authorities arrested seven people for selling false certificates to travelers at the airport. Photo: christophe archambault / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images The CommonPass was tested on several international flights last year, and Project Commons says it is coordinating its efforts with more than 20 governments. IATA says it is also developing a mobile app, called the IATA Travel Pass, which will allow passengers to share test results with authorities in a way the association says will make traveling with bogus nearly impossible. documents. But getting all countries to accept the same digital passes is a challenge, creating obstacles in an already difficult travel regime. “Without the ability to trust Covid-19 tests – and possibly vaccine registries – across international borders, many countries will feel pressured to maintain comprehensive travel bans and mandatory quarantines for as long as the pandemic persists.” said Bradley Perkins, Project Commons chief medical officer and a former director of strategy and innovation at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. —Lekai Liu and Sam Schechner contributed to this article. Write to Jon Emont at [email protected] Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8.



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Travel service provider fined $ 5.9 million for Cuba sanctions violations | Instant News



Generali Global Assistance Inc. has agreed to pay nearly $ 5.9 million to resolve apparent violations of U.S. sanctions against Cuba, in a deal that the U.S. Treasury Department said underscored the need for businesses to be aware risks of indirect sanctions. The Cuba-related insurance reimbursements that the San Diego-based travel service provider routed through a Canadian affiliate in an attempt to avoid US sanctions, the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said Thursday. The total value of prohibited transactions was low, but the apparent violations were intentional, making it blatantly clear, OFAC said. Generali had codified the indirect payment process for Cuba-related payments in its procedures manual, according to the sanctions watchdog. “[Generali] has worked diligently with OFAC to provide detailed information on these past practices and has invested significant time and resources to further improve its sanctions compliance program, ”a company spokesperson said in a statement. Newsletter subscription Risk and compliance journal Our morning risk report provides information and updates on governance, risk and compliance. The apparent breaches occurred between 2010 and 2015, when Generali discovered the problem while reviewing its compliance protocols and reporting the transactions to the Treasury, the spokesperson said. During this period, Generali served as a supplier for two Canadian insurers that offered reimbursement of medical expenses and other travel services to Canadians traveling to Cuba, according to OFAC. For claims submitted by individual travelers, the company would process claims as it did for travelers to other countries, OFAC said. However, the direct payments requested by Cuban service providers were returned to Generali’s Canadian subsidiary, which the company would reimburse later, he said. Both forms of reimbursement violated US sanctions against Cuba, according to the regulations. The case demonstrates the importance of ensuring that compliance programs capture the risks of direct and indirect sanctions, including the risk of implementing a process that allows a company to misuse a transaction that would otherwise be prohibited, a declared OFAC. The office also acknowledged the abrupt changes in US policy in Cuba that have occurred between the administrations of Presidents Obama and Trump. Sanctions against Cuba were at one point revised to allow some of Generali’s problematic behavior, OFAC said. It was a mitigating factor, he said. President Obama announced in December 2014 that he would begin talks with Cuba on normalizing relations. Shortly after, in 2015, the United States began to relax trade and travel rules and remove Cuban individuals and entities from American blacklists. But the Trump administration in June 2017 decided to reverse some of the changes and has since gradually tightened sanctions against the island nation. In the five years since the company disclosed the payments, Generali has signed multiple extensions of a toll agreement, pushing back the deadline for authorities to present their claim, so that OFAC can continue its investigation – another mitigating factor, according to OFAC. Generali has also put in place a formal structure for compliance staff and introduced new sanctions training for its employees, he said. Generali, based in San Diego, is part of the Italian insurance conglomerate Assicurazioni Generali SpA, also known as Generali Group. Write to Dylan Tokar at [email protected] Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8.



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