COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine certificates, and other vaccine-related materials are being sold on the darknet by anonymous traders, according to a new report by IT security firm Check Point Research.
The report, first shared last week, details that over the last three months, the darknet has seen a 300 percent spike in ads for fake vaccines and passing them off as Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sputnik, and SinoPharm. Check Point provided examples of fake advertisements on its site.
Prices for fake vaccine “doses” reportedly range from $500 to $750, according to the BBC, with certificates selling for as low as $150. Vaccine passports, which would allow people who have been vaccinated to travel, are also being sold on the darknet.
“It’s clear to us that the target audience for darknet vaccine vendors are actually dealers, not necessarily the public at large,” Check Point spokesperson Ekram Ahmed told Fox News.
Ahmed added that Check Point attempted to purchase a vaccine on the darknet, was asked to use end-to-end encryption and was required to pay in Bitcoin.
“We paid them. They gave us a FedEx tracking number. The transaction was made last week, and we have yet to get the vaccine we ordered,” Ahmed said.
Back in January, the Federal Trade Commission issued an advisory about COVID vaccination scams, writing that anyone who asks for money is a scammer.
“You can’t buy it – anywhere,” the FTC wrote. “The vaccine is only available at federal- and state-approved locations.”