Covid-19 Vaccine Card: How much on Black Market and How easy to Fake
|Fake vaccination certificates are incredibly easy to buy online, or even to make yourself. Photo: Travel Weekly|
As the world reopens after a year of pandemic lockdown, many restaurants, workplaces, event venues and even some countries are demanding that individuals show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they can enter.
Israeli security firm Check Point reports that fake American and Russian vaccination certificates are being sold online for between $100 and $200. Fake COVID-19 negative test results cost as little as $25, while (likely fake) COVID-19 vaccine sells for about $500 per vial, according to Tom's Guide.
But honestly, if you're paying $150 for a fake American vaccination card, you're being ripped off. The official Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card you get when you're vaccinated in the United States is ridiculously easy to fake.
Not hard to find online
Due to the decentralized nature of the US healthcare system, the cards, which carry the logo of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), were judged to be the simplest way the authorities can keep track of who has had the jab.
Yet with 13% of Americans stating they will refuse the vaccine, there has now emerged a black market for those who still want to enjoy the benefits immunization will bring as towns and cities start to relax lockdowns.
The security firm claimed to have seen authentic-looking cards selling for as little as $20 each on domains like covid-19vaccinationcards[.]com, which features a Let’s Encrypt TLS certificate.
Counterfeit vaccine cards and what are being billed as Covid-19 vaccines are now for sale on the dark web, according to a report released Tuesday.
Security researchers at cybersecurity firm Check Point Software said they've discovered listings for Covid-19 vaccines from various brands, such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, for up to $1,000 a dose, as well as at least 20 vaccines certificates for $200 each, CNN reported.
The dark web is a part of the internet not detected by search engines where cybercriminals often sell and buy illicit materials, from credit card numbers and drugs to cyberweapons and now, apparently, coronavirus-related products.
A Check Point spokesperson told CNN Business it's uncertain if the vaccines are real, but said "they appear to be legitimate" from pictures of packaging and medical certificates. Advertisements for vaccines on the dark web are up 300% in the past three months, according to the report.
And not difficult to fake it
Meanwhile, vaccine certificates — or proof of vaccination cards — are created and printed to order; the buyer provides the name and dates they want on the certificate and the vendor replies with what Check Point said resembles an authentic card.
The counterfeit products are being marketed to people who need to board planes, cross borders, start a new job or other activities that may require someone to give proof of vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) logo, including a picture of an eagle, is featured on the top right corner of the fake vaccine cards, just like on the real ones. The Check Point spokesperson said the company estimates "vendors are capable of pumping out fake vaccination cards by the thousands, if not tens of thousands, based on requests."
Some experts say illegal markets around vaccine cards and digital passports are inevitable. "Not everyone has access to the vaccine; roll-outs are slow in many countries, and people are tired of lock-downs and curfews," said Michela Menting, who covers cybersecurity for ABI Research. "If people can easily get hold of a fake passport to avoid restrictions, then they will, and an illicit market will spring up around it."
The news comes as government agencies warn people to stop posting pictures of their vaccine card on social media to avoid potential identity theft or be a target for phishing schemes.
At least one country will let you in
In reality, several places are taking CDC cards. Iceland is now accepting CDC cards as proof of vaccination, meaning any joker who prints and fills out a convincing-looking fake card can travel to the land where the hot springs flow.
Other countries, including Belize, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Guatemala, Poland, Portugal and Romania are requiring proof of vaccination to enter without having to quarantine, but it's not clear exactly what kind of certificates are required. (Not all these countries are letting in U.S. residents right now.)
And, um, you can get free Krispy Kreme doughnuts if you present a CDC vaccination card.
"What these little cards have the potential to do is to make something like international travel easier by avoiding requirements for quarantine or testing," one infectious-disease specialist told ABC News in a recent report.
"We simply believe that no American should be prevented from working, from getting food, from getting access to their on the property, or from visiting their loved ones," the card fakers declare.
If there's a significant number of people who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine, or who can't get it for other reasons, you can bet there will be a demand for fake vaccination certificates, said Info-security.
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