Fake vaccine cards are being sold online ahead of the introduction of fines for those in breach of the Covid certification scheme in Northern Ireland.
Blank vaccine cards that can be filled in with personal details are being sold by a man based in the Irish Republic for €50.
The cards appear to be from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the Republic and look like the genuine vaccine cards issued by clinics there.
The vaccine cards are being advertised via social media.
When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph the man, who had a southern accent, said the cards would be accepted in Northern Ireland, before refusing to answer any more questions.
However, in an online message exchange the man tells prospective buyers that the cards are selling fast, that he only has limited supplies left and that they will be accepted north and south of the border.
The HSE said they were not aware of any reports of vaccine cards being stolen.
People entering certain premises are now asked for proof of vaccination or a negative test result under the regulations which were introduced last week. But there will be a short grace period, with no fines issued until next Monday.
The online version of the Covid certificate is available to be downloaded as an app, and an official paper version can be obtained. However, people will still be able to use their vaccination card alongside photographic ID for an interim period.
Criminals selling the HSE proof of vaccination have been telling buyers that bars and pubs in Northern Ireland will accept the cards as proof of vaccine.
The Department of Health app is only available to people living in Northern Ireland and requires proof of identity.
Proof of vaccination or a negative test result is now a mandatory requirement to enter licensed premises, as well as cinemas and theatres.
At the weekend several hundred people gathered outside Belfast City Hall to protest against the move.
The fake vaccine cards are being sold to vaccine sceptics and Covid deniers trying to bypass the new regulations.
Sinn Fein Health Committee member Colm Gildernew said anyone trying to undermine the health message was “beneath contempt”.
“There is a responsibility on all of us to protect public health and protect the health services on both sides of the border. Anyone trying to profiteer from the health crisis needs to stop immediately”, he added.
Meanwhile, a legal firm in Belfast has said a case is being taken against the legality of the certification scheme.
Brentnall Legal Ltd in south Belfast said that “a client has been granted legal aid funding to judicially review the legality of the vaccine passport scheme which has been put in place in this jurisdiction. This is an important challenge which will be placed before the High Court in Belfast”.
At a sitting of the Assembly on Monday the DUP’s Christopher Stalford said MLAs should be given the opportunity to debate the scheme. The DUP voted against Covid passes in the Executive.
“I recognise that the Minister for Health has a very difficult job, and is facing a very difficult time over the coming months, but it is our job to support the minister when he is right but also to question, and to debate and to tease out the evidence, and that’s why I am very disappointed that I don’t see any reference in the business diary to such a debate taking place. It absolutely should take place,” said Mr Stalford.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The regulations are currently being scrutinised by the Examiner for Statutory Rules. We await her report.The regulations are scheduled for debate in the Assembly on December 13.”