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WORLD | 09-01-2021 08:32

Sales of fake Covid-19 vaccines seen on ‘dark web’

Rise in computer crimes detected in relation to Covid-19 vaccines.

The murky world of cybercrime has acquired a new dimension with the coronavirus pandemic in the form of increased sales of fake vaccines on the dark web as countries across the world embark on vaccination campaigns. 

Hawking false antidotes against Covid-19 is a worldwide problem that has worried organisations like the FBI and Interpol in recent weeks, while here in Argentina companies related to cybersecurity are also issuing warnings.

“At a time when the logistics of various vaccines is taking off worldwide, we are detecting the possibility of acquiring various brands of vaccine, among them AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine,” said BTR Consulting, a firm specialising in cybersecurity.

“They offer a specific quote in Bitcoins to eliminate price volatility, specifying conditions of delivery, including changing the original label to ‘saltwater’ for ‘safer’ transport and thus seeking anonymity at any time,” among other digital frauds in websites selling vaccines but which end up robbing money and information from users, the firm added.

 “Just last December 16, the Federal Trade Commission in the United States received 275,000 reports of fraud and stolen identity related to the pandemic whose victims reported a total loss of some US$211 million. The frauds exploiting the generalised anxiety surrounding Covid-19 have been expanding as fast as coronavirus itself since the start of the year.”

Beyond money, these crimes endanger health since they also sell fake vaccines, recommending forms of application and even using a "look and feel" system similar to the Amazon marketplace. The "terms and conditions" section is normally vacant but the number of units sold and available stock are indicated.  

"After 20 days, take the second dose of the vaccine and it will be all over. With any luck you’ll be immune for a long time,” ran one ad. 

BTR Consulting expressed concern over the cybersecurity of users but also their health since many people might acquire these pseudo-vaccines, inject them into their bodies and then go out on the streets thinking that there’s no contagion, only to end up with coronavirus problems. 

– TIMES/PERFIL [with reporting by Agustín Jamele]

 

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