The black market in coronavirus-related pharmaceuticals and tests continues to grow, with researchers detecting a 350% increase in adverts for supposed ‘vaccines’ over the past three months.
Check Point Research revealed new data today claiming that the number of dark web ads for COVID-19 vaccines has trebled since January, with Johnson & Johnson ($600), AstraZeneca ($500), Sputnik ($600) and SinoPharm ($500) brands all on offer for a few hundreds dollars apiece.
Dark web activity around COVID-19 now also extends to fake vaccination cards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), selling for $150 each.
Elsewhere, researchers spotted fake negative COVID-19 test documents for sale with a “buy two get the third free” deal. Other vendors are selling DIY versions of a negative COVID-19 test document which can be generated in less than 30 minutes for as little as $25, according to Check Point.
Oded Vanunu, head of product vulnerabilities research at Check Point, said the illicit activity had exploded over the past couple of months, from just a few hundred ads for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine to over 1000 for numerous brands.
He warned that vaccine-related activity would continue to grow as long as there is strong demand from the global populace.
Attempting to purchase vaccines via these channels is extremely dangerous as, even if they are legitimate, they may have been stored incorrectly and could be hazardous. Fake vaccine certificates are also damaging to public health as they could allow individuals still exposed to the virus and potentially infectious to claim they’re protected.
“It’s imperative for people to understand that attempting to obtain a vaccine, a vaccination card or negative COVID-19 test result by unofficial means is extremely risky, as hackers are more interested in your money, information and identity for exploitation. People who have not been vaccinated and try to use fake COVID test results or vaccine certificates are damaging the fight against the disease,” argued Vanunu.
“We also strongly urge everyone to not share their vaccination cards or negative COVID-19 tests on social media, as the information on those pictures can make its way onto the darknet in some form.”