People buy fake coronavirus vaccine certificates on Telegram

There’s exponential growth in market activity for fake coronavirus vaccine certificates, primarily on Telegram, Check Point Research said.
coronavirusAdvertisements promise the EU Digital COVID certificate, CDC and NHS COVID vaccination cards, alongside fake PCR COVID-19 tests to anyone willing to pay $100.

Sellers are organizing their services in groups on Telegram, with some groups exceeding 450,000 followers, as sellers view Telegram as a far more efficient means to scale distribution. Vaccination certificates for almost every country are available for purchase. The majority of the fake certificates are being sold from European countries.

In March 2021, CPR published a report that first detailed the trend of fake ‘vaccine passports’  being sold online across the darknet. Since then, CPR has continued to monitor the black market for activity around alleged coronavirus services.

The advertisements are specifically designed for people “who do not want to take the vaccine”. One advertisement exampled displayed “we are here to save the world from this poisonous vaccine.” The advertisements highlight the ability to travel and work freely as benefits of their product. Advertisements purport that their vaccination cards are registered and verified in the NHS and CDC system online, as well as the EU database.

Sellers mostly accept payments through PayPal and cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Monero, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and others).  In some cases, Steam, Amazon and ebay gift-cards are accepted.

Sellers list their method of contact as Telegram, WhatsApp, email, Wickr and Jabber.

In March, the majority of the fake coronavirus certificates were advertised on the dark net. Now, CPR sees the majority of black market activity centered around Telegram. CPR suspects the shift to Telegram has helped sellers scale their distribution efforts, reaching more consumers, faster.

“Fake vaccination cards for almost all countries are now available for purchase. All you need to do is list the country you are from and what you want. Vendors are choosing to advertise and do business on Telegram because it scales their distribution. Telegram is less technical to use compared to the dark net and can reach an inordinate amount of people, fast,” Oded Vanunu, Head of Products Vulnerabilities Research at Check Point, said.