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COVID-19 vaccines flogged on dark markets for $250 to $1 200

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Researchers at Kaspersky have scrutinised 15 different marketplaces on the dark Web and found advertisements for three major COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Moderna.

There were also sellers advertising unverified COVID vaccines.

According to Kasperskyt, as the whole world is undergoing one of the largest and most complex vaccination campaigns in history, crooks and sellers on the dark market are keen to jump on the bandwagon.

Most sellers originated in France, Germany, the UK, and the US, and the prices per dose vary from $250 to $1 200, with an average cost of about $500. Communications are made via encrypted messaging apps like Wickr and Telegram, while payments are requested in the form of crypto-currency, primarily bitcoin.

Kaspersky says the majority of underground sellers have made between 100 and 500 transactions to date, indicating that they’ve been completing sales but what exactly the buyers are getting remains shrouded in mystery.

Based on the information available to the researchers, it’s impossible to tell how many of the vaccines doses being advertised online are actual doses, and how many are a scam.

“Even if you did receive something in the mail, most likely what you would receive would not be an effective, valid dose,” the company says. “More importantly, obtaining such doses is illegal.”

Dmitry Galov, a security expert at Kaspersky, says practically anything can be found on the dark Web, so it’s no surprise that sellers there would try to cash in 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. 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 the Darknet.”

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