Beware: Fake COVID-19 vaccines are already being sold online

Beware: Fake COVID-19 vaccines are already being sold online
Airman 1st Class Kimber Bernau, 59th Medical Wing Family Emergency Clinic medical technician, administers the San Antonio Military Health System's first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot to Maj. Andrew Gausepohl, Dec. 14, 2020, at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The Department of Defense is conducting a coordinated vaccine distribution strategy for prioritizing and administering COVID-19 vaccines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Melody Bordeaux)

It has been less than one full week since Pfizer began distribution of the COVID vaccine and scammers have already started marketing fake versions of the vaccine online, according to Business Insider. To make matters worse, there has been an increase in the number of vaccine listings available.

A security firm named Check Point has discovered a number of dark web companies advertising COVID-19 vaccines for up to $300 per dosage. While the security company noted that it had not ordered the product in order to test the content of the drug, there is a strong likelihood that the product is not authentic.

Oded Vanunu, who works as the head of Product Research at Check Point, recalled the timeline for when many of the vaccine-selling ads. Prior to the FDA's authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, there were very few ads but after the authorization was confirmed, more ads began circulating.

"Right after the FDA approved the vaccine we started seeing between four to ten posts a day. Some are from the same seller, all the posts are averaging $250/300," said Vanunu.

Jürgen Stock, Secretary-General at INTERPOL, also released a statement to raise awareness about the existence of dark web entities and websites attempting to sell fake vaccinations that could potentially "pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives," according to The Daily Beast.

"Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives," Stock said in the statement. "It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine."

The greatest concern is the wide margin of risk that comes with fraudulent vaccines. According to the publication, side effects from fake vaccines could range from "ineffective to lethal." Authorities have also raised concerns about the possibility of contaminated vials being used to package fake vaccines. Vials could be stolen from waste management bins and recycled for secondary usage.

Another concern centers on the rise of "organized crime syndicates" taking advantage of the pandemic by "trafficking personal protective equipment and fake tests and doctored test results to get around quarantines and other restrictions."

As the world continues its fight against the coronavirus, the United States is facing massive upticks in cases all across the country. As of Friday, Dec. 18, the U.S. has reported more than 17.7 milliovn coronavirus cases. The country's death toll has surpassed 315,000.

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