Darknet market sales of forged covid-19 vaccination cards are booming according to security researchers studying the issue on both American and European fronts. A flurry of vaccine-related mandates issued by both U.S. and European leaders has led to a surge in demand for the fake records as significant portions of the global population continue to resist vaccination.
The number of vendors offering vaccination card or test services has skyrocketed from around 1,000 in August to 10,000 in September, according to security experts at Check Point Research.
In America, where vaccination is increasingly a requirement for societal participation, the problem faced when attempting to crack down on fraudulent vaccine records involves a general lack of coordination between government agencies enforcing card-checking policies. Europe and Russia, on the other hand, suffer more from a disconnectedness between IT companies providing vaccination QR code-checking infrastructure.
“No coherent approach has emerged to deter their use, or to provide guidance to businesses responsible for checking proof of vaccination,” staff of The Crime Report wrote in an October editorial, referring to the vaccination card issue. “And because buyers can prolong an illegal scheme unless someone tips off the government to the fraud, businesses are on their own to check these cards,” they said.
While several popular darknet markets carry forged vaccination cards in their “Fraud,” Counterfeits,” “Forgeries” or “Digital Items” sections, some markets refuse to support anything remotely related to covid.
“Fellow Americans, everyone deserves autonomy, medical privacy & equality,” penned one vaccine card vendor in the opening to their listing description. “We are here for you to prevent you from being intimidated & pressured into taking vaccines,” they continued, before going on to describe how they obtained the cards and what actions went into the forgery of a filled card.
Prices of the cards on darknet markets tend to range between $50 and $500, with an average card costing around $100 in the U.S. and $300 in Europe. The cards vary in price depending on the level of complexity required to forge the card. Some come complete with scannable QR codes; others are simply digital renderings as often a photocopy is all that is required for verification purposes.
One vaccination card vendor was offering an additional $500 service to have an “insider” place a customer’s corresponding information in a “national database.”