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Fake Covid vaccines sold on the Dark Web

Interpol has warned of “potential criminal activity linked to counterfeiting, theft and illegal promotion of vaccines against Covid-19”.

Published: January 6, 2021, 8:19 am

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    Paris

    Since November, some fraudulent websites have proposed doses of the vaccine against the Coronavirus, while the whole world is seeking to quickly put in place vaccine strategies in order to control the epidemic. But some of these vaccines are actually counterfeit serums.

    “It is surely placebo,” said Xaxier Duros, technical director of Check Point Software, a company specializing in cybersecurity. Duros spoke to French daily Le Parisien on Tuesday, January 5. According to the daily, these counterfeit vaccines cost between $250 and $1 000. In early December, Interpol warned of “potential criminal activity linked to the counterfeiting, theft and illegal promotion of Covid-19 vaccines”.

    Since then, the authorities closely monitor these shenanigans on the Dark Web, reported Le Parisien. “We have seen the emergence of nearly 1 000 new sites dealing with the subject on this parallel Internet. We have identified a dozen which offered vaccine doses,” said Xavier Duros. The director of Avisa Partners – and also specialist in counterfeiting on the Internet – Antoine Violet-Surcouf confirmed these sales: “The offer is not as massive as for other drugs but there has been the appearance of ‘autoshops’, or mini-sites selling Chinese or Russian vaccines.”

    According to the information of the daily, it is nevertheless required to pay in Bitcoin, a virtual currency. “This excludes direct purchase by [private individuals] because you have to know the sales platforms and get virtual currency,” said Antoine Violet-Surcouf.

    “The sale takes place mainly between small resellers who then dispatch them to restricted circles via private couriers,” he said.

    The vaccine is not the only product, linked to the Coronavirus, available on the Dark Web. Since the start of the health crisis, Antoine Violet-Surcouf and his teams have gradually seen the emergence of sales of chloroquine, negative PCF tests (essential for traveling) but also blood bags from Coronavirus patients, reported Le Parisien. These malicious organizations face up to five years in prison and a fine of 150 000 euros if caught.

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