Check Point Research (CPR) has reported a boom in the black market for fake vaccine certificates on Telegram, following US President Biden’s vaccine mandate announcements last Thursday. CPR also saw a 10x increase in the number of vendors selling these fake vaccine certificates on Telegram. Subscribers have also increased 12x.
The black market for fake vaccine certificates has expanded to serve 28 countries, 9 of which are new, including Austria, Brazil, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Singapore, Thailand, UAE.
According to the research, a fake certificate for Singapore in the black market is priced at €250 (S$395.65); Thailand at US$80 and Indonesia at US$80-US$100.
Oded Vanunu, Head of Products Vulnerabilities Research at Check Point Software shared, “We’ve been studying the black market for fraudulent coronavirus services all year. In January, the black market took place mostly on the darknet, where one needed special software to access it. Back then, the market was likely designed for dealers, people who can distribute fake goods in mass quantities within specific geographies. Over the past nine months, we witnessed mass consumerisation of the black market by a macro-shift of the black market to Telegram. Telegram appeals to vendors by its anonymity, reach and scale.”
Vanunu further added, “As the Biden White House announced further vaccination guidelines, Check Point Research took a fresh look at the black market since our last update on August 10, 2021. The growth of the black market for fake vaccination cards has been exponential. The price for a fake CDC card has doubled. The reach of the black market expanded to include nine other countries. We estimate that the number of sellers on this back market has gone up by 10x. The number of subscribers of sellers, who organise themselves in Telegram groups, has grown by a multiple of twelve. Our expectation is that the black market for fake coronavirus vaccination cards will continue to thrive as more policy requiring vaccination proof gets rolled out.”
Fake COVID Vaccine Certificates Become A Full-Blown Industry
Image courtesy: iStock
The black market for fake vaccine certificates is booming. Check Point Research (CPR) continues to monitor the black market in which fake COVID-19 vaccine certificates are being sold to anyone willing to pay.
The black market for fake vaccine certificates has now expanded globally, now selling certificates in 28 countries, including Australia, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand. Since March, CPR spotted over 5000 Telegram groups selling fake documents, making Telegram the primary selling platform.
Certificates for Singapore priced at Euro 250 (S$395.65); Thailand at US$80 and Indonesia at US$80-US$100
Vaccine mandate policy drives fake vaccination card market.
More countries across the world are adopting the vaccine mandate policy following its successful implementation in European markets such as France, Greece and Italy.
In the US, President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is the next step in the fight against the Delta variant in the country, and part of the overall effort to bring the pandemic under control. Biden stated, “We’re going to reduce the spread of Covid-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.”
The new mandates affect hundreds of public and private companies and tens of millions of American workers. Prior to the announcement, we observed Telegram groups having as many as 25,000-30,000 subscribers and followers.
Biden’s announcement resulted in an immediate acceleration in the number of subscribers and followers, with some groups having follower sizes as large as 300,000, a number we have not previously spotted. This roughly marks a 12x increase.
The black market’s evolution since the beginning of the pandemic
Image courtesy: iStock
Back in December 2020, CPR spotted hundreds of adverts in the Darknet offering supposed vaccines for sale. The hundreds of adverts presented, back then, a 400% increase compared to previous months.
In March 2021, while the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations started to accelerate, the number of adverts tripled to over 1,200 with sellers based in the U.S. and European countries such as Spain, Germany, France and Russia.
Prices for fake ‘vaccine passports were US$250 each, while fake negative COVID-19 test results cost just US$25 each.
In our last report back in August 2021, we shared that fake ‘vaccine passport’ certificates were on sale for US$100-US$120, with the majority of sellers from European countries.
Also on sale: The EU Digital COVID certificate, CDC and NHS COVID-19 vaccine cards, and fake PCR COVID-19 tests. The number of advertisement groups and their sizes have multiplied by a hundred percent since the beginning of 2021.
In August 2021, CPR saw the number of sellers to number around 1,000. Today, the number of sellers has grown exponentially to north of 10,000, marking a 10x increase.
Fake COVID Vaccines Certifications Sold More From Countries In Europe And APAC
The more a need grows, and demand follows, the more sellers will expand their operations. We are reporting today that sellers are offering fake certifications from more countries, including:
- Europe: Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Greece, Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Latvia, Ireland, Malta, UK, Ukraine
- APAC: Australia, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Thailand
Here’s are the prices at which it is available in different countries:
Singapore: €250 or S$ 395.65
United Emirates: US$200
Latvia: €150 – €200
United Kingdom (UK): 100-150€
US: US$150 – US$200
This is not the first time the researchers have reported this troubling trend that is developing globally. We have spotted and have been following this growing “industry” since the pandemic outbreak in 2020.
However, it seems that as the pandemic reaches new peaks, so does this market as it continues to improve its capabilities, expand its distribution, and increase its followers.
Currently, CPR researchers have spotted new techniques that sellers are using to sell more. For instance, in Austria, a Telegram bot creates fake certificates for free!
All one needs to do is fill in the relevant details and a pdf file will be shared with them containing all their filled data, such as in the case attached- a negative PCR test.
Recommendations for awareness
Genuine health-related certificates are not sold over the Internet. Anybody who is offering to sell such documents over the internet is clearly doing so illegally. CPR recommends people not engage with sellers publishing on such groups or marketplaces anywhere across the web.
Every country should internally manage a central repository of tests and vaccinated people, which can and should be securely shared between relevant authorised bodies within the country.
All ‘green passes’ and vaccination certificates should be managed and encrypted in a secure way by the relevant official bodies within each country, as well as a QR code that can be scanned for authentication purposes.
Countries should cooperate and share info regarding such data and create a secure repository with encryption keys to allow people to roam using legit only certifications and to be able to detect forged and fake ones.
Information Source: Check Point Software
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