- Cybersecurity company “Check Point” finds that vendors on the dark web have been selling Covid-19 vaccines, asking for bitcoin payments, and not supplying the products.
- The darknet is essentially a secret component of the internet that needs to be accessed by special software. It is renowned for being a place where narcotics, weapons, and other illegal products can be purchased.
- Listings were as high as $1,000 for undisclosed vaccine doses and some contradicted official medical recommendations on the number of shots needed.
According to cybersecurity firm Check Point, sellers on the so-called darknet have put out an increasing number of advertisements for Covid-19 vaccines, requesting bitcoin as payment and not delivering the goods.
The darknet is essentially a secret component of the internet that needs to be accessed by special software. It is renowned for being a place where narcotics, weapons, and other illegal products can be purchased.
When nations around the world are rushing to introduce vaccination campaigns, opportunistic online scammers are trying to take advantage of them by fraudulent means.
In an updated research report published on Tuesday, the company said that Check Point’s search query for vaccines on the dark web returned over 340 ads on 34 sites, compared to only 8 pages of results from a similar query in early December.
The average median price tag for an unspecified vaccine dose has now been doubled from $250 to $500, or may even quadruple up to $1000, Check Point stated.
Blackmarket of COVID-19 Vaccines
The cybersecurity firm’s researchers put an order for a vaccine dose from a supplier they contacted on the Telegram encrypted messaging app. For $750 worth of bitcoin, the researchers were given a made-in-China vaccine. The seller’s account was removed after the researchers paid and submitted their delivery address, and the shipment is still to be shipped, they said.
For payment, all the listings for vaccines required bitcoin as informed by Check Point. Bitcoin used to be seen as an encrypted payment form, but lately, it has become much more traceable.
The firm says that the increase in vaccine advertising is a result of higher demand from individuals who are not in favor of waiting to be vaccinated.
“Due to an increase in demand from individuals who don’t want to wait for weeks or months to get their vaccination from their countries,” the company said in a blog post.
According to CheckPoint, some sellers claimed to supply vaccine doses in bulk rather than single shots. One vendor said that at a total price of $30,000, they could sell a 10,000 vial order.
Official medical advice on doses also seemed to contradict a range of listings. One vendor contacted by Check Point offered to sell an unspecified Covid-19 vaccine for about $300 worth of bitcoin and claimed 14 doses whereas just two doses are required for most of the approved vaccines.
“Unfortunately, though most of us are watching with hope, some minds are watching with greed and malice, intending to capitalize on the fears of people about Covid-19 and the urge to be safe from the possibility of catching it.”
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