In the past six weeks, the number of vaccine scams has skyrocketed. On the dark web, a search query for the term “vaccines” returned more than 300 advertisements across 34 unique pages. This is a significant departure from the mere eight pages of results that appeared just a month prior.
A research team with Check Point Software reached out to an online seller in an attempt to investigate a scam. For the purpose of research, the team at Check Point offered the seller Bitcoin payment to see what the seller might send in the mail. “Our expectations were low, and, of course, they weren’t met,” reported Check Point engineer, Mark Ostrowski.
Several days after the Bitcoin exchange, Check Point researchers received a note saying that their dark web vaccine had shipped. However, shortly thereafter, the seller disappeared from the internet.
Supply, demand and the most suspicious sales
The uptick in fake vaccine advertisements could represent an attempt to pander to the people who don’t want to wait weeks or months for a vaccine. In addition to individual shots, online sellers are also pushing bulk orders. One vendor offered 10,000 vials in exchange for $30,000.
It’s not just fake vaccines for sale
The medication hydroxychloroquine, which was falsely advertised by former US President Trump as a pandemic panacea, also surfaced on the dark web.
Law enforcement and fake vaccines?
In December, INTERPOL issued a message to law enforcement across 194 countries in an attempt to get ahead of these types of threats.
In one instance, police were able to identify and arrest more than 80 individuals suspected of participation in a criminal arrangement to manufacture and sell fake vaccines.
In a separate case, a bogus biotech expert has been placed under arrest on account of selling a fake vaccine and injecting people with an unknown substance.
For more on this story, visit CBS News.