Vendors are cashing in on people desperate to leapfrog the line—or falsely certify which they got the shot.Security researchers have seen a spike in listings on dark web marketplaces in recent weeks. The sites are advertising sets from vaccine doses to falsified vaccine certifications and negative test results. Currently, a lot more than 1,200 listings are offering a number of vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sputnik, and Sinopharm.
Investigations by researchers at security firm Check Point have now been monitoring the sites for Covid-19-related activity since January, and they report a three-fold increase in such activity over the last three months. It’s unclear if the doses are legitimate, and even though these were, there’s no guarantee that the vials have been stored at the right temperature, potentially rendering them useless.
A week ago, Check Point researchers located in Israel attempted to buy the Sinopharm vaccine from vendor, said Ekram Ahmed, a spokesperson for the company. “We tried to negotiate and choose the Chinese vaccine through among the vendors,” he told Ars. The team messaged the seller, who directed them to continue the negotiations on Telegram. Once there, owner provided reassurances that the vaccine doses were legitimate. The researchers sent $500 to a Bitcoin wallet, and while they’ve received a FedEx shipping label, they have yet for the shipment.
Dark web vendors are likely doing better business selling falsified vaccine cards and negative test results. “Lately, we’re seeing more vaccination certificates being offered” than vaccines, Ahmed said. “It’s probably a two-to-one ratio.”
With COVID-19 testing becoming more widespread, the purchase price for negative test results is as low as $25. Vaccination cards are harder in the future by and can sell for more, around $200. These certificates are becoming passports of sorts, allowing people a freedom of movement they haven’t enjoyed in months. The European Union is in the act of creating a “digital green certificate” they hope to roll out by June to permit its citizens and residents to travel across borders. In the US, proof vaccination could grant people access to certain venues, and employers may require it of their employees to go back to the workplace.
The researchers have alerted Europol to the listing and are contacting others today.the Check Point spokesperson, said that the sellers they contacted on dark web marketplaces were hoping to setup long-term relationships making use of their customers. The goal dark0de market, he explained, “are folks on the floor, individuals who are trying to spread and sell at the area level in bulk.”