CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cyber-security experts say despite warnings from health and law enforcement officials cautioning people not to buy fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, advertisements for the phony documents, continue to appear on what’s called the dark web.
“When it comes to social media and encrypted apps, we are at risk especially when it comes to our health,” said Eric Feinberg, a vice-president with the Coalition For A Safer Web. “There is a definite uptick in these ads.”
Several internet security experts say there is a market for the fake cards, because some people want the card showing they have been vaccinated, but don’t want the vaccine. The cards can be purchased on the dark web, which is an online black market.
“Internet crime is basically playing on people’s fears,” Feinberg said. “The original fear was they couldn’t get the vaccine, so vaccines were being sold, now the fear is they don’t want to get the vaccine but want to show they got it with these bogus cards.”
Some sites are selling the phony cards for $200. They are free if you get the vaccine.
“What people don’t realize is their identity is being compromised on the dark web by bad actors who are collecting identities and selling for a profit,” said Brian Linder, of Check Point Research, an international cyber-security firm. “Now in some countries you will need a legitimate and digitally verifiable vaccine card to travel and Check Point Research has found especially in Europe this is starting. But here in the United States there are no plans to make your card digitally verifiable.”
State and federal law enforcement officials stress that if you buy or make a fake COVID-19 vaccination record card, you are not only breaking the law but endangering yourself and those around you.
“The real purpose behind the card is to get a vaccine and be protected,” said Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda. “The vaccines are to help keep you healthy.”
To report suspicious activity involving fake vaccination record cards, you can contact law enforcement and file a complaint online with federal officials by going to oig.hhs.gov, or the Internet Crime Complaint Center ic3.gov.