“The growth of the black market for fake vaccination cards has been exponential,” according to experts. Recent vaccine mandates may have contributed to the increase. Fake vaccine certificates or vaccine record cards are available in at least 29 nations around the world, from Austria to Malta. In some places, they’re nearly as easy to purchase as candy at the supermarket.

Law enforcement officials are alarmed. In the span of just over a month, researchers witnessed a 10-fold increase in the number of vendors selling fake record cards on Telegram. The prices for these cards range from $85 USD to $200 USD. Officials are intercepting as many of these fake vaccine card productions as possible, but will they be able to keep up in the long-run?

Fake record cards, other falsified documents

The proliferation of counterfeit cards began as nations, municipalities and employers began to require vaccines for participation in activities and for job retention. In December of 2020, fake vaccine cards were indeed available on the dark web. However, only a few sellers existed and few card options existed. Similarly, falsified documents indicating negative coronavirus test results also persisted on the dark web throughout last year, but they too existed in smaller numbers than now. Overall, the number of fake coronavirus-related paraphernalia ad groups has multiplied by 100% since the start of 2021. 

Expanding fake record card operations

As new coronavirus-related requirements continued to take effect, dark web sellers began to craft fake vaccine record cards that almost perfectly conform to card styles in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Finland, Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Ireland, Malta, the UK, Ukraine, Australia, Indonesia, India, Singapore and Thailand. 

Online fraudsters are developing increasingly crafty techniques to provide consumers with fraudulent documents. Researchers have even discovered a Telegram bot that creates fake vaccine certificates for free. “All one needs to do is fill in the relevant details and a [phony] pdf file will be shared with them containing all their filled data…” state the researchers

In some cases, people have opted to edit real vaccination cards using professional graphics software, like Photoshop. Fraudulent card purveyors have even reported that business is too good. When it comes to fake vaccine cards, “We see it growing every single day,” says Check Point Software’s Ekram Ahmed.

Could fake vaccine cards harm your enterprise?

An increasing number of enterprises are requiring proof of vaccination for employees and visitors alike. Although use of fake vaccination cards is a crime, their proliferation continues. In the event that someone connected to or frequenting your business using a counterfeit card, your employees or patrons could see heightened levels of exposure to the coronavirus itself. 

For more information about recent surges in fake vaccine cards available on the black market and who’s buying them, check out Cyber Talk’s past coverage. If you suspect a coronavirus-based scam, you can report it here. Lastly, to receive more trending tech news, expert insights and cutting-edge analysis, subscribe to the Cyber Talk newsletter here.