The Ómicron variant boosted sales of fake vaccination certificates, which cost more than 500 euros.
Check Point Research (CPR) warned this Friday of the recent resurgence of counterfeit tests and false vaccination certificates on the black market, namely in Portugal, advancing that the price of false documents has increased by 600%.
“The new wave of infections driven by the Ómicron variant of covid-19 has been exploited by sellers of counterfeit certificates who, in recent weeks, as many countries strengthen measures to contain the pandemic, have increased their activity”, he warns in a statement. CPR, the ‘Threat Intelligence’ area of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.
Warning that “governments must come together quickly to combat the latest black market growth”, CPR warns that “if they don’t, the risk of the number of falsified documents increasing in the coming weeks and months is very high”.
Portugal among the countries affected by the illegal purchase of fake certificates
Ensuring that “Portugal is no exception”, CPR presents a real example of a Telegram group, called ‘Covid-19 Portugal Vaccine Certificate’, “where the almost 800 subscribers are encouraged to make the illicit purchase of a vaccination certificate which the advertiser describes as ‘100% authentic’ and guarantees that they “can be used for work, school, public spaces and for travel”.
The ‘research’ unit also notes a “dramatic increase in monetary amounts transacted in exchange for a falsified vaccination or testing certificate”.
“Shortly after the presentation of vaccination certificates in 2021, counterfeit PCR and antigen tests could be purchased for 75 to 100 dollars [cerca de 65 a 87euros]. In the latest black market resurgence, these same documents are on sale for $200 to $600 [cerca de 175 a 525 euros], which represents growth of up to 600%”, he points out.
According to CPR, “the high transmissibility and rapid spread of the Ómicron variant, together with the difficulties in satisfying the demand for Covid-19 tests, have created a new gap in the market, which is being used to profit”.
“There is at least one fraudulent group that has returned to activity after a period of silence in October 2021 which, in turn, followed the use of the Delta variant”, he advances, explaining that “potential customers can either be people who have tested positive for the disease, such as people who refuse to be tested or vaccinated”.
“For these people, the alternative is often to start a search on the Internet. Victims may also include innocent users who end up being lured to fraudulent or suspicious domains while seeking genuine guidance and advice.”, refers.
Quoted in the statement, the security expert at Check Point Software considers that “without a centralized testing and vaccine certification system, it is all too easy for scammers to exploit the current situation to their advantage.”
“That’s certainly what we’re seeing here, with some fraudulent groups that have been dormant for months resurrecting to reap what they can from the changing pandemic landscape,” says Liad Mizrachi.
As he explains, countries around the world are currently tightening their restrictions and asking citizens to present negative tests or vaccination certificates before entering crowded places, while “international travel has become more complicated, with the emergence of more cases”.
“This, in combination with the problems in providing the ‘kits’ for tests adequate to the demand and the hesitation in the face of the vaccine, created the perfect storm for the scammers”, he maintains, considering that they are “once again operating with confidence” , as evidenced by the “dramatic increase in prices on the ‘dark net’”.