Instagram posted an ad promoting fake vaccination certificates in Australia at a time when New South Wales and Victoria are emerging from Covid lockdowns and forcing people to show proof of vaccination.
Vaccination status can be proven at sites in both states over the next several months using a printed certificate from the Australian Vaccination Registry, a digital certificate on a person’s phone, or a recording. added to QR code recording apps.
The ad, a screenshot of which was provided to Guardian Australia by someone who had seen it on Instagram, featured fake digital vaccine certificates that could be loaded into a phone’s digital wallet through the app Medicare Express or the myGov account.
The ad appeared in the Instagram Stories feed – where the ads appear between photos and videos uploaded by accounts a user follows.
After Guardian Australia made inquiries with Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, the account behind the ads was deleted.
An Instagram spokesperson confirmed that the account was suspended for violating company guidelines on fraud and deception, particularly with regard to the sale of false documents.
The spokesperson did not respond when asked how much Instagram money was paid to promote the ad or how many users the ad received.
Guardian Australia has previously reported that counterfeits are possible because the federal government does not have a system in place to verify certificates when presented.
Developer Richard Nelson, who raised concerns in August about digital certificates by demonstrating that they can be tampered with in 10 minutes, told the Full Story podcast this week that many people have since asked him how to tamper with theirs. . He declined these requests.
The Service NSW version of the app has a QR code for sites to check a person’s immunization status. The immunization passport to use when traveling overseas will also verify immunization status against government records.
However, using the NSW Service app for proof of vaccination is not mandatory, meaning people can present paper or digital certificates instead.
Australia’s vaccination rate hit 70% of the population over 16 on Wednesday. So far there have been no reported attempts to present false certificates.
Sites contacted by Guardian Australia this week said the main issues so far have been with people who have no proof of vaccination, have not yet been fully vaccinated or have forgotten their phones.