Black market for fake COVID-19 vaccination cards is booming

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As more businesses and states enforce mandates, the black market for fake vaccination cards is booming but these sales aren’t happening on the dark web.

Experts say these fakes are becoming more accessible to anyone who wants one.

Telegram is a free messaging app but now it’s one of the largest marketplaces for fake vaccination cards.

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“We’ve never seen anything like this is completely unprecedented,” said Brian Linder, emerging threats expert at Check Point.

Linder said many of these transactions often happen with cryptocurrency.

“There’s no way to track the number of these cards that have been sold,” said Linder.

He said the prices of fake cards doubled from $100 to $200 after President Biden announced his vaccine mandate.

“The people selling these cards are enterprising and realize that that dark web was not going to get them the audience that they wanted,” said Linder. “So they did what you know an open market would do they adapted and said let’s go sell them where people can buy them.”

Check Point has been monitoring the sales of fake vaccination cards and even fake negative covid test results since January.

Researchers say not only have the prices doubled but now some online groups have 300,000 people interested in these illegal goods which puts themselves and public health at risk.

Fakespot, which flags scams online for customers, has been tracking this activity too. They say not all these illegal deals are happening online.

“We’ve seen recent stories that some of them are employees at hospitals where they paid to put someone’s name and record into the database,” said Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.

Experts say these fake cards may cost you more than you realize.

“You’re doing them a favor by giving up your personal identifiers, personally identifiable information that you have no idea where that data is going to end up, it’ll be sold and used and put in and assembled with other data from you know, your various public Facebook accounts and things so you just don’t know what the consequences of that will be,” said Linder.

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The FBI says selling and even buying a fake vaccination card is illegal, violating federal law.

We also reached out to Telegram multiple times for a comment on this story and how it is tracking these illegal sales but we haven’t heard back.