Sellers on 15 different “dark web” marketplaces have dispersed hundreds of doses of what they allege are COVID-19 vaccines, according to a new study by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky. What’s more, Kaspersky’s researchers believe a significant portion of those sales, as much as 30%, could be of actual vaccines.
“There is evidence that suggests some of these sellers are providing real doses,” said Dmitry Galov, a researcher at Kaspersky who led the study of illicit online vaccines sales. “There are pictures of packaging and medical certificates. It looks like some of these people do have inside access to medical institutions.”
The doses are available for as much as $1,200 a pop, and Kaspersky researchers, who finished their study two weeks ago, say some vaccine hawkers have completed as many as 500 transactions. Galov said the prices have been rising recently and that all of the sales are conducted in cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, making them hard to track.
Galov said he’s seen no evidence of regulators trying to crack down on those on the dark web claiming to sell vaccines.
Also for sale are phony vaccination cards and forged documents that claim a person has had a negative COVID-19 test. Dubious treatments for the disease are being touted as well, according to the study.