They may be rolling out vaccines across the world, but it’s going to be a while before we see the end of this pandemic.
There’s talk of an impending third wave in South Africa, and we could be gathering for a ‘family meeting’ with the president soon, to discuss the Easter holidays.
For most of us, waiting for access to the vaccine is frustrating, which has created a market for criminals looking to make a quick buck.
Earlier this month, following an alert from INTERPOL, South African authorities seized some 400 ampoules of fake COVID-19 vaccines, or the equivalent of around 2 400 doses.
Per CNN, security researchers at cybersecurity firm Check Point Software said they’ve discovered listings on the dark web for COVID-19 vaccines from various brands, such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, for up to $1 000 (upwards of R15 000) a dose, as well as at least 20 vaccine certificates for $200 (around R3 000) each.
For the buyer who likes a deal, you can purchase a negative COVID-19 test result for $25 (R375), or “buy two, get the third for free”.
Vaccine cards are especially coveted for those looking to travel. The noise around COVID-19 vaccine passports has increased significantly over the past few months, and there are a number of countries talking about easing travel restrictions on those who can show they’ve received the jab.
A Check Point spokesperson said that they’re not certain that the vaccines are real, but they appear to be legitimate, which is in itself worrying.
Vaccine certificates, on the other hand, can be printed to order. The person buying the certificate, or card, provides a name and a date, and the fraudster sends them what looks like an authentic card.
Some experts say illegal markets around vaccine cards and digital passports are inevitable. “Not everyone has access to the vaccine; roll-outs are slow in many countries, and people are tired of lock-downs and curfews,” said Michela Menting, who covers cybersecurity for ABI Research.
“If people can easily get hold of a fake passport to avoid restrictions, then they will, and an illicit market will spring up around it.”
Governments have asked people to stop posting pictures of their cards on social media, as this is a great way for fraudsters to ensure that the fake cards match up with the real ones.
“Pics or it didn’t happen” doesn’t apply here.
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