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Covid vax for sale on darknet for $250 to $1,200

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New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) Cybercriminals have posted sales advertisements for three major Covid-19 vaccines and the prices per dose range from $250 to $1,200, with an average cost of about $500, said a report from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

The majority of sellers came from France, Germany, the UK and the US, said the researchers, while most likely what you would receive would not be an effective, valid dose.

The research showed that majority of these underground sellers have made between 100 and 500 transactions, indicating that they have been completing sales but what exactly darknet users are purchasing remains unclear.

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For the study, the security researchers examined 15 different marketplaces on the darknet and found advertisements for three major Covid-19 vaccines — Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

Communications are made via encrypted messaging apps like Wickr and Telegram, while payments are requested in the form of cryptocurrency, primarily Bitcoin.

It is not clear how many of the vaccine doses being advertised online are actual and how many advertisements are scams.

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“You can find just about anything on the darknet, so it’s not surprising sellers there would attempt to capitalise 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,” Dmitry Galov, security expert at Kaspersky, said in a statement.

“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,” Galov added.

The report comes at a time when production shortages have been a major hindrance for accelerating vaccination drive against Covid-19.

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The researchers noted that darknet shopping is risky business, and it is clear from the past year that scammers have been all too eager to profit off the current crisis.

That means no one can be at all confident they will actually receive anything after transferring bitcoins, let alone a real vaccine dose that was stored properly and is safe to take, Kaspersky said.

–IANS

gb/arm

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