Covid Vaccines and passports for sale

  • 25th March 2021
  • Emma Laffey
  • Cyber Crime
Covid Vaccines and passports for sale

Cybercriminals are once more cashing in on vulnerabilities raised during the Covid-19 pandemic by selling covid vaccines, forged vaccine passports and faked negative tests on the dark web. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen more than a fair share of fraudulent activities, such as counterfeit PPE, telephone and email scams, fictitious remedies, and not to mention plenty of fake news across social media pages.

 The latest dark web activity involves seeing a sharp increase in adverts for forged negative test results, forged vaccine passports and even doses of the vaccine itself since the official rollout of the vaccine.

 With prices starting from $500 (£360) for a single vaccine dose, vendors are hoping to make money from those who are worried about the virus, the fact that some countries have insufficient supplies or even from those simply wishing to queue-jump. 

 Cybersecurity firm Check Point has been doing some significant research into this and has ascertained what sellers are offering: 

  • $25 will buy a fake negative Covid-19 test result
  • $250 could get you a fake Covid-19 vaccine passport
  • $500 - $1000 could secure an AstraZeneca, Sputnik, Sinopharm or Johnson & Johnson vaccine dose.
  • In just 6 weeks, prices for these demands have doubled and, on some sites, they have even quadrupled! 
  • The number of adverts for these goods and services has tripled within the last three months

 Digital vendors are ramping up their sales tactics, with offers such as “Buy two, get one free!”, “selling fast!” and assuring ‘stealth’ delivery. Some are making promises that the faked documents will help you to get the job you want, or enable you to travel abroad; in fact, the forged documents will help with any situation where proof of vaccination or a negative test is required.

 A UK vaccine passport is currently under consideration and would allow people to fly abroad, attend a concert and enjoy access to restaurants and bars. Due to this, the demand for a vaccine passport in the UK could become far greater.

 However, buying from the dark web doesn’t come without risk. You are handing over personal and banking details to serious cybercriminals. There is absolutely no guarantee that your purchase will ever arrive and you can’t complain to a vendor that has disappeared with your money. 

 The Head of Product Vulnerabilities Research at Check Point, Oded Vanunu has stated

"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."

 As part of their research, the Check Point team purchased a vaccine dose, using cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin, that has yet to materialise. The seller’s account also now appears to be missing! There is no way of clarifying how many of these accounts may be genuine and offering real vaccines, or if they are scams that take your money and disappear - this is the nature of buying from the dark web and being shrouded in anonymity.

 Cybercriminals can exploit your personal details on the dark web too, selling part or all of your identity, from your name, address and date-of-birth, to bank accounts and passport numbers. Take advantage of your free FraudWeb search with Notty; we search to see if your details are for sale on the dark web and will alert you if so, and inform you of the next steps to take.