A man is given a dose of the vaccine for Moderna Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a vaccination site on the South Bronx Educational Campus in Bronx New York on January 10, 2021.
I have Betancur | AFP | Getty Images
GUANGZHOU, China – According to cybersecurity firm Check Point, sellers on the so-called dark web have been advertising more and more Covid-19 vaccines, requesting Bitcoin for payment and failing to deliver the goods.
The dark web is practically a hidden part of the Internet that requires special software to access. It’s known for being a place to buy drugs, firearms, and other illegal goods.
As countries around the world struggle to introduce vaccination programs, opportunistic scammers online are trying to take advantage of these benefits.
Check Point’s search query for vaccines on the dark internet returned over 340 ads across 34 pages, compared to just 8 pages of results from a similar query conducted in early December, the company said in an updated research report released Tuesday.
Unfortunately, while most of us watch with hope, there are some who watch with greed and malice on their minds to capitalize on people’s concern about Covid-19 and protect themselves from the risk of catching it.
The average average price of $ 250 for an unspecified dose of vaccine has now doubled or quadrupled to $ 500 or even up to $ 1000, Check Point said.
Researchers at the cybersecurity company ordered a dose of vaccine from a provider they contacted via the encrypted messaging app Telegram. Researchers were offered a China-made vaccine for Bitcoin worth $ 750. After the researchers paid for and sent their shipping address, the seller’s account was deleted and the package has yet to be delivered.
All vaccine offers required Bitcoin for payment, Check Point said. Bitcoin used to be seen as an anonymous payment method, but has become much more traceable recently.
Check Point said the surge in vaccine advertising could be because people didn’t want to wait for one.
“We believe this is due to an increase in demand from people who don’t want to wait weeks or months to get their vaccination from their countries’ governments,” the company said in a blog post.
According to Check Point, several vendors said they ship vaccine doses in bulk rather than single shots. One vendor said it could sell an order of 10,000 vials for a total of $ 30,000, the researchers said.
A number of listings also appeared to contradict official medical guidelines on doses. A vendor contacted by Check Point offered to sell an unspecified Covid-19 vaccine for Bitcoin worth around $ 300, claiming 14 doses would be required. Some of the approved vaccines only require two doses.
“While most of us watch with hope, unfortunately there are some who watch with greed and malice on their minds to capitalize on people’s concern about Covid-19 and protect themselves from the risk of catching it,” said Check Point said in his blog post.