Authorities are worried at the rate underground scammers are selling fake COVID-19 vaccines. The majority of sellers originated in France, Germany, the UK, and the USA, and the prices per dose range from $250 to $1,200, with an average cost of about $500.
Scammers and buyers usually get in contact 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 100-500 transactions.
With the information available to Kaspersky experts, it’s impossible to tell how many doses of the vaccine being advertised online are actual doses (many medical facilities have found themselves with leftover doses) and how many advertisements are scams.
“You can find just about anything on the Darknet, so it’s not surprising sellers there would attempt to capitalise on the vaccination campaign. Over the past year, there have been a whole host of scams exploiting the COVID topic, and many of them have been successful,” says Dmitry Galov, security expert at Kaspersky.
“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 of the Darknet.”
To stay safe from scammers at the time of COVID, Kaspersky experts recommend the following:
Never buy products – including vaccine doses – on the Darknet.
If you see an advertisement for something related to COVID, look carefully at the URLs of the sites that you visit. If just one letter looks out of place, or if the usual .com has been replaced with .com.tk or something along those lines, your gut should tell you it is phishing. Never enter personal information on such a site.
Pay attention to grammar and layout on both the sites you visits and the emails you receive. If something seems phishy, it probably is.