Oct 24, 2021 Last Updated 05:45 AM EDT

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Vaccine Pre-Order?: Dark Web Vendors Sell Purported COVID-19 Shot for Only $300

Dec 19, 2020 07:36 AM EST

Criminals are using the chance of the rising demand for the COVID-19 vaccine and are selling presumably fake doses on the "dark web," the portion of the internet manipulated by merchants who are beyond easy detection of law enforcement agencies, according to NPR

Officials warned about fraudsters who use the COVID-19 pandemic

Dark Web Vendors Sell Purported  COVID-19 Vaccines for Only $300
(Photo : Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
National Defense Secretary Conducts COVID-19 Vaccination Drill MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - DECEMBER 18: A military man receives the mock vaccine during a COVID-19 vaccination drill by SEDENA at 81st Infantry Battalion of the Mexican Army on December 18, 2020 in Mexico City, Mexico. The Mexican National Defense Secretary is conducting a drill for the reception, distribution and application of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19. A few days after succesfully running the drill Mexico will receive it's first 125,000 doses.

On Dec. 18, the newspaper cited sample vaccines sold by dark web vendors in Western countries and China. Prior to the vaccines' approval by regulators in the European Union and the U.S., officials warned that fraudsters would use the situation to launch scams or even to sell stolen doses, PYMNTS reported.

"There will always be a market for people who wouldn't necessarily have access to that medicine and wanted to protect themselves and their families. There will be, certainly globally, a lot of money that can be made by criminals," says Amy Shortman, pharmaceuticals supply chain security expert. 

Besides, the newspaper stated that pharmaceutical shippers and companies are looking for thieves seeking to intercept doses. Meanwhile, Jurgen Stock, Interpol Secretary-General, said in a statement that criminal organizations plan to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains as the government prepares to roll out vaccines. Jurgen added that criminal networks would target unsuspecting members of the public through fake websites and false cures. 

The FBI posted guidelines on its website to avoid COVID-19 crimes. The agency warned any related situation that you are required to pay out of pocket to get a vaccine; advertisements for COVID-19 vaccines through social media platforms, online, email, telephone, calls, or unsolicited sources; you are asked to pay to have your name on the vaccine waiting list or to have early access. 

Read also: Could Buying Pfizer Stocks Make You Millionaire?

COVID-19 vaccine cyberattacks steal credentials

The recent rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines is leveraged by cybercriminals globally in different ways, including stealing email passwords to distribute the Zebrocy malware. Security researchers said the recent slew of vaccine-related cyberattacks elevate the widespread media attention around the distribution and development of COVID-19 vaccines. 

According to Threat Post, the recent reports that manufacturers such as Pfizer may not provide additional doses of its vaccine to the U.S.massive volume until sometime in Q2. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these lures continue playing high emotions of victims like something seen in several phishing and malware campaigns throughout the last year.

Dark web criminals are cashing in with COVID-19 vaccines

A security company Check Point Software found vendors on the dark web selling suspect coronavirus vaccines for up to $300, as per the Business Insider. However, Check Point researchers did not order the suspected vaccines. Therefore, they are unable to test the contents. The suspicious ads and the details suggested the items for the same if those were not genuine.

BioNTech and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, which was first granted with emergency authorization in the U.S., only need each patient to have two doses three weeks apart. Meanwhile, Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine would be approved on Friday. Sinovac's vaccine was mentioned in some dark web ads.

Read also: FDA Grants Priority Tag to Pfizer Pneumococcal Vaccine, Company Could Gain Billions in Revenue

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