The black market in fake vaccination cards flourishes Telegram

Telegram users are being sold fake vaccine cards by people who want to deceive anti-vaxxers.

Check Point’s research arm has released a report about the rise of black market for fake vaccination cards on Telegram. The report estimates that more than 2,500 channels and groups are selling fake vaccine records worldwide, which is 257 percent higher than its March report.

A mix of groups and channels peddling these illicit wares have thousands of members: The average is about 100,000 followers, with one channel posting to more than 450,000 subscribers. You can buy vaccine records for as low as $100 per pop. This is paid in crypto currency. You simply need to inform sellers which country you would like a record from. Although passports and vaccine cards are readily available for many countries, Check Point states that most sellers concentrate on European countries.

A Telegram group advertising fake vaccine card sales.
Credit: Check point

Fake vaccine sales might be an option for those who aren’t willing to follow the government and business regulations to obtain COVID vaccination. They’d prefer to pay money for a fake record than risking their lives with a lifesaving shot. Check Point said that previously the dark web was the main hub for fake vaccine card sales. This has changed with Telegram emerging as the preferred platform.

Ekram Ahmed (a spokesperson for Check Point) stated via email that the shift to Telegram was the biggest change in black market coronavirus service services. We believe these vendors chose Telegram to expand their distribution while maintaining some privacy.

Ahmed noted also that Telegram was “less technical than the dark web and can reach an excessive amount of people quickly.”

The largest of these public channels has over 450,000 subscribers.
Credit: Check point

Telegram can be described as a social networking and messaging service. You can privately DM friends and groups, join “channels”, which can be public or private, with unlimited members. Or, you can join groups that have as many as 200,000 members.

Telegram surpassed over 500 million “active users” in January as a backlash to WhatsApp sending out notifications about its data collection privacy.

Telegram makes it a great platform for vendors due to its lax attitude towards illegal activities. On public channels, Telegram prohibits three types of content: spam and scams, posts promoting violence, and illegal pornographic material. This is a much smaller number than the other social media networks when it comes COVID content. Multiple social media platforms have banned any misleading or illegal information about COVID, in response to misinformation and scams.

In private chats and groups, you can also post violent and pornographic messages. In groups, you can do anything. Telegram explicitly says it “does not process any requests” about content in groups, including those about illegal activity.

Ahmed stated that Telegram must examine this issue and determine if it needs to change their content moderation policies. He also said that Telegram’s black market will only rise more as governments plan vaccine mandates at different levels.

Counterfeiters are selling cards for multiple nations.
Credit: Check point

According to an FBI public service announcement, both making and selling fake vaccine cards is illegal. This is also in direct contradiction to public health campaigns that are trying to stop the rapid-growing Delta variant of vaccines. Check Point has found that fake cards are being sold by sellers to individuals “who do not want to get the vaccine”, but who live in areas where they are required to be vaccinated to attend school, work or engage in other public activities.

According to Check Point, one seller advertised that “We are here for the saving of the world”

Check Point does not have any data about the actual number of people who are buying these cards. However, it states that there is evidence that there is a vibrant market because of the number and activity in the groups.

Ahmed stated that “the existence, proliferation, and market buzz” Ahmed is seeing on Telegram every day gives him strong reasons to believe the market is trading at scale.

It’s easy to think that it is all for one miracle shot. It’s all too much.

Publited Fri, 13 August 2021 at 01:07:33 +0000

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