The world is undertaking one of the largest and most complex vaccination campaigns in history and, not surprisingly, scammers and sellers on the dark market are eager to profit off the process.
Kaspersky researchers examined 15 different marketplaces on the Darknet and found advertisements for three major Covid-19 vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Moderna. There were also sellers advertising unverified vaccines.
The majority of sellers originated in France, Germany, the UK, and the US, with prices per dose ranging from $250 to $1 200, at an average cost of about $500.
Communications are made via encrypted messaging apps like Wickr and Telegram, while payments are requested in the form of cryptocurrency, primarily bitcoin.
The majority of these underground sellers have made between 100 and 500 transactions, indicating that they’ve been completing sales – but what exactly darknet users are purchasing remains unclear.
With the information available to Kaspersky experts, it’s impossible to tell how many of the vaccines doses being advertised online are actual doses (many medical facilities have found themselves with leftover doses) and how many advertisements are a scam.
Even if you did receive something in the mail, most likely what you would receive would not be an effective, valid dose. More importantly, obtaining such doses is illegal.
“You can find just about anything on the darknet, so it’s not surprising sellers there would attempt to capitalise on the vaccination campaign,” comments Dmitry Galov, security expert at Kaspersky. “Over the past year, there have been a whole host of scams exploiting the Covid topic, and many of them have been successful.
“Right now, not only are people selling vaccine doses, but they’re also selling vaccination records – pieces of paper that can help you travel freely. It’s important for users to be cautious of any “deal” related to the pandemic, and, of course, it’s never a good idea to buy a vaccine off the darknet.”