Sellers on the Dark Web have been putting out ads offering doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Their asking price may reach such heights as $1.000 a piece (about £730), according to Check Point, a cybersecurity company. While vaccine scams have existed on the Dark Web since December, the amount of ads and the price of doses has been on the rise. Check Point found more than 340 ads on 34 pages, compared to merely 8 pages of advertising last month. The ads did not specify whether they were selling the vaccine from Moderna or from Pizer.
Several of these advertisements even proffered misinformation regarding these vaccine doses. One of them claimed that the vaccine should be injected as 14 doses per person, all the while the official medical protocol only requires two. The increase in numbers of such misleading ads likely to capitalise on the growing desperation and impatience of those hoping to be vaccinated. Indeed, the serum's deployment in the deployment in the United States, hasn't met the objectives set by Operation Warp Speed. Check Point wrote in an article that the crooks are taking advantage of people's dire need to sell the vaccine, especially towards those who are not a priority demographic for vaccination. Checkpoint explained on their blog:
We believe this scam arose when the demand for the vaccine exploded. Some people refuse to wart weeks or months to receive the vaccine in their country of residence.
According to the article, Checkpoint's researchers were offered a dose of the vaccine for about 750 dollars (about £550) in bitcoins when they contacted one of the vendors through Telegram. Following payment, the seller's account was deleted, and the researchers did not receive anything. These Dark Web crooks also claimed to sell vaccine doses by the unit. One vendor advertised 10.000 vials of serum, priced at $30.000 (about £22.000).
Attempts to curb the proliferation of scams
These incidents increasingly happen on the Dark Web, and the authorities are seeking to take down and dismantle more of these networks. On Tuesday, the European Union announced that it had seized one of the largest forums for such criminal activity on the Internet, the DarkMarket. The site registered over 500.000 users. Europol declared in a statement:
The scale of the operation carried out by Europol shows that the whole world is determined to fight against the vices of the dark web.
These criminals probably demanded bitcoin payments because they much harder to trace. In July, some hackers seized dozens of celebrity profiles on Twitter and used them to request payments in bitcoins, the value of which increased sharply since the start of the pandemic.