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August 23, 2021 at 3:13 am #36760natebloom8
Vendors are cashing in on people desperate to leapfrog the line—or falsely certify they got the shot.Security researchers have seen a spike in listings on dark web marketplaces in recent weeks. The sites are advertising 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, darkode reborn 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 escalation in such activity over the last three months. It’s unclear if the doses are legitimate, and even if these were, there’s no guarantee that the vials have already been stored at the right temperature, potentially rendering them useless.
A week ago, Check Point researchers based in Israel attempted to buy the Sinopharm vaccine from vendor, said Ekram Ahmed, a spokesperson for the company. “We tried to negotiate and buy the Chinese vaccine through one of the vendors,” he told Ars. The team messaged the seller, who directed them to keep the negotiations on Telegram. Once there, the seller provided reassurances that the vaccine doses were legitimate. The researchers sent $500 to a Bitcoin wallet, and while they have received a FedEx shipping label, they have yet to receive 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 cost for negative test results is only $25. Vaccination cards are harder to come 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 making a “digital green certificate” they aspire to roll out by June to permit its citizens and residents to visit across borders. In the US, proof vaccination could grant people use of certain venues, and employers may require it of their employees to come 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 set up long-term relationships with their customers. The prospective market, he said, “are folks on the floor, folks who are looking to spread and sell at the neighborhood level in bulk.”