Scammers on the dark web have taken advantage of the ongoing pandemic to defraud victims, claiming to sell unspecified doses of the COVID-19 vaccines for sums as high as $1000 worth of bitcoin.
According to a Wednesday report, researchers from the cybersecurity firm, Check Point, discovered that these scammers have been putting out ads for the vaccines and asking for payments in bitcoin.
As per the report, the Check Point researchers had reached out to a vendor via the encrypted messaging app, Telegram, and were offered an unspecified dose of vaccine for $750 worth of bitcoin.
However, once the bitcoin payment was made, the alleged vendor deleted their account and did not make the delivery.
Earlier in December last year, the firm had allegedly run a search query for the COVID-19 vaccines on the dark web but the results were very insignificant compared to the latest results.
The number of ads for the vaccines they found on the dark web recently had more than quadrupled, getting to about 340 ads in 34 pages from the earlier 8 pages of results.
The researchers opined that the increase in the number of these ads might have been fueled by the growing impatience of several people for the vaccine.
Most vendors even claim to sell in bulk and can charge up to a whopping $30,000 worth of bitcoin for about 10,000 vials of the vaccine. Some even go as far as prescribing high doses of the supposed vaccine in a bid to make more money.
The firm expressed its displeasure in these dishonest acts saying,
” Unfortunately, while most of us are watching with hope, there are some watching with greed and malice in their minds, with the intent of capitalizing people’s concerns about Covid-19 and desire to be protected against the risk of catching it.”
The scammers use bitcoin as a means of payment for the vaccines because it can not be traced back to them once the payment is made. This use of bitcoin for nefarious activities has often been a major hindrance to bitcoin mass adoption.
Several innocent victims have lost huge sums of money to scammers and hackers who use bitcoin as a means of payment. A few months ago, the travel management giant, CWT, lost $4.5 million worth of bitcoin in a ransom to hackers.
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