Sales of Fake COVID-19 Vaccines Expand to Six Countries

 Sales of Fake COVID-19 Vaccines Expand to Six Countries

Following a research by Kaspersky researchers, unverified COVID-19 vaccines including three major COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna, are beginning to make sales on darknet between $250 and $1,200 with crypto currency.

According to the researchers, advertisements by sellers for these vaccines were found in 15 different marketplaces examined on the darknet with majority of sellers came from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America

The prices per dose ranged from $250 to $1,200, with an average cost of about $500.

Kaspersky also revealed that communications were made via encrypted messaging apps like Wickr and Telegram, while payments were requested in the form of cryptocurrency, primarily Bitcoin.

“Majority of the underground sellers have made between 100-500 transactions, but what is being purchased remains unclear,” the report stated.

Security expert at Kaspersky, Dmitry Galov, noted that darknet users were also selling vaccination records, pieces of paper that helped with free travel, and advised users to be cautious of deals related to the pandemic.

“You can find just about anything on the darknet. So, it’s not surprising sellers there would attempt to capitalise on the vaccination campaign. Over the past year, there have been a whole host of scams exploiting the COVID topic, and many of them have been successful,” he said.

Trends on fake COVID-19 vaccine

Aside from the four countries listed out by the researcher, South African authorities also announced the seizure of hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines and a large quantity of fake 3M face masks in an operation prompted by an Interpol global alert.

“Some 400 ampoules – equivalent to around 2,400 doses – containing the fake vaccine were found at a warehouse in Germiston, Gauteng, where officers also recovered a large quantity of fake 3M masks and arrested three Chinese nationals and a Zambian national,” Interpol said in a statement.Only a month ago, Chinese authorities also reported that they had detained 80 people for selling fake COVID-19 vaccines in Beijing and the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong.

Kehinde Ogunyale

Freelance Investigative and Data Journalist

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